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Hands On: Sony a7 III, Nikon 28mm ƒ/1.4E – Two Great Updates For Pros
& Fujiilm X-H1
The Whole Is Greater
Than The Sum Of The Parts
Raising The Bar
In Wedding
Great New Options
For Still + Motion
JUNE 2018
Exceptional Images
Images by: Max Seigal, Matt Hoffman, Hanson Fong, Teresa Lee, Doug Gordon, Annie K. Rowland, Boudoir Divas, Alexis Cuerezma
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MAY/JUNE 2018 Vol. 16 No. 3
Jerry Ghionis
By Mark Edward Harris >> Photography By Jerry Ghionis
Joel Meyerowitz relects on his legendary career
By Mark Edward Harris >> Photography By Joel Meyerowitz
A true team of innovative equals
By Meredith Winn >> Photography by France Photographers
The company's "basic model" is anything but
Text & Photography By David Schloss
By David Schloss
Jerry Ghionis
Unmatched storage performance in a hard drive
that fits in your pocket, with room to spare
Editor’s Note
Here comes the bride ¶ all dressed in
white ¶ wanting the JPEGs ¶ to post
on their Instagram feed ¶ and Twitter
and Facebook ¶ and Pinterest and Snapchat ¶ before the ceremony is even over
Perhaps those aren't the lyrics Wagner
original penned in 1850, but it reflects
the pressure put on the modern wedding photographer. When I got married
in 1999, wedding shooters still used film
(the Nikon D1 was launched a week
before our ceremony), and you’d wait
weeks or months to get back proofs from
2 | Digital Photo Pro
your wedding. At that point, the newlyweds would pick their favorite images,
pay an enormous sum of money, wait a
few more weeks or months and receive
a wedding album that they’d promptly
put in a drawer and forget about.
The last wedding I shot, the bride
and groom had a collection of JPEGs
to distribute before they left on their
honeymoon and the full edit waiting
for them on their return. Today, wedding photography operates at a faster
pace and with a different type of competition. The portrait-style wedding
photographers of my era were replaced
by journalistic-style wedding photography (thank goodness), and the slow
pace of delivery was replaced by the
same frantic rush as every other part
of the professional photography world.
In this issue, we examine the state
of wedding (and portrait) photography, both from a business and a creative point of view. Photographer Sara
France (whom we have previously
covered in wedding issues) took her
business from a one-woman shop to a
collective of photographers—a strategy
that might help many wedding photographers and which she explains. We also
profile Jerry Ghionis, who has made a
career out of creating unique wedding
imagery and shaping the high-fashion
approach to wedding photography.
In the HDVideoPro pages, we take a
look at today's mirrorless cameras and
their ability to create cinema-quality
video—something especially crucial in
wedding studios doing video work.
Wedding photography has changed
over the decades, but the need to produce high-quality imagery that will
last a lifetime is the same as ever and
will always be the core job of the wedding photographer.
—David Schloss, Editor
Twitter/Instagram @davidjschloss May/June 2018 | 3
Editorial Director
MAY/JUNE 2018 Vol. 16 No. 3
Associate Editor
Contributing Editors
(617) 706-9110, Fax (617) 536-0102
Media Solutions Director
Senior Media Solutions Manager
One light, endless possibilities for still + motion work
By David Schloss >> Photography by Peter Muller
Media Solutions Manager
Exceptional image quality abounds
in Nikon’s newest wide-angle lens
Text & Photography By David Schloss
Marketing Director
Marketing Associates
Art Director
Senior Digital Designer
Take your astrophotography
to the next level with these techniques
Text & Photography By Adam Woodworth
Graphic Designers
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ON THE COVER: Jerry Ghionis is known as one of the top
wedding photographers alive today. With his high-fashion
approach to weddings, Ghionis creates images that would
be equally at home in a wedding album or a fashion magazine. We talk to Ghionis about his inspiration and creativity,
starting on page 30.
Member, Alliance for
Audited Media
4 | Digital Photo Pro
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Madavor Media, LLC
25 Braintree Hill Office Park, Suite 404
Braintree, MA 02184
MAY/JUNE 2018 Vol. 16 No. 3
Chairman & Chief Executive Officer
Chief Operating Officer
SVP, Sales & Marketing
VP, Business Operations
Technical Product Manager
Panasonic and Fujifilm pave the way for
the future of hybrid cameras
Affordable VR audio recording
and noise-reducing headphones for
professional use
Text & Photography By Daniel Brockett
Operations Supervisor
Human Resources Generalist
Text & Photography By Daniel Brockett
Supervisor, Client Services
Client Services
Putting Fiilex’s new Q8 travel kit to work
Text & Photography By Daniel Brockett
Accounting Director
Accounts Payable Associate
Accounts Receivable Associate
VP, Audience Development
VP, Strategy
Strategic Content Director
Content Marketing Associates
Newsstand Distribution
Advertising /Sales, (617) 706-9110
6 | Digital Photo Pro
New Tools Of The Trade
Pentax K-1 Mark II
The PENTAX K-1 Mark II is a compact, rugged and weather-resistant camera
equipped with new technologies that provide discerning photographers with
improved operability and outstanding images.
While the K-1 Mark II has the same 36 MP full-frame CMOS sensor as the
original K-1, Ricoh has added a new accelerator unit that works with the PRIME
IV image processor to produce high-resolution images with minimal noise in
tricky lighting conditions. With a sensitivity of up to ISO 819,200, this new
lagship camera is perfect for low-light photography.
Other notable features of the new K-1 Mark II include Pixel Shift Resolution
System II for more delicate details and more accurate colors, optical viewfinder
with nearly 100 percent field of view, advanced PENTAX Real-Time Scene Analysis
System, a lexible tilt-type LCD monitor and built-in GPS module.
Price: $2,000 Website:
Panasonic Leica DG VARIO-ELMARIT 50-200mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH
The compact Panasonic LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT 50-200mm F2.8-4.0 ASPH is the third lens
in its LEICA DG VARIO-ELMARIT F2.8-4.0 Series. It comes equipped with Panasonic’s Nano
Surface Coating technology that reduces ghosting and laring, and a rugged dustproof/splashproof design that can also withstand temperatures of -10°C. With its zoom range of 100mm to
super-telephoto 400mm, the new offering is a perfectly versatile choice for all kinds of shooting
situations, including wildlife, indoor sports and portraits.
Photographers who require outstanding performance for both photo and video will benefit from
features such as hand-shake compensation from the POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer),
and high-speed, high-precision Contrast AF coupled with a smooth and silent operation.
Price: $1,700 Website:
8 | Digital Photo Pro
Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL
Portrait photographers looking for a powerful yet convenient light source may find Elinchrom’s
new release particularly interesting. The new ELB 500 TTL promises to be the most powerful and
portable TTL light for both studio and on-location portrait work.
The Elinchrom ELB 500 TTL has a powerful battery pack that combines 500ws of power and
delivers 400 full power lashes on a single charge. The fast recycling time of two seconds means
photographers are always ready for the next shot. The new TTL light also comes with useful
features that include High-Speed Sync Active Charging, Full Asymmetry and built-in Skyport
Protocol®. Its “Manual Lock” functionality also allows photographers to set an initial “lock” on
their TTL exposure, then switch to manual mode for adjusting exposure as needed.
Price: $1,900 single kit, $2,120 dual kit Website:
Tamron 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD
The 70-210mm F/4 Di VC USD promises superb
optical performance throughout the zoom range
and a maximum magnification of 1:3.1. It’s
designed with an internal zoom mechanism with
solid mechanical construction for high-speed and
high-accuracy autofocus performance. This design
also features a powerful Vibration Compensation
(VC) image stabilization for shake-free handheld
shooting, lexibility and versatility in different
conditions. Fully equipped for outdoor use, this new
telephoto zoom lens also has a Fluorine coating
and moisture-resistant construction.
Price: $800 Website:
SKB’s revolutionary
Flyer Series hard cases
are the perfect choice to
safely transport and protect your
equipment whether on location or in
studio. They’re watertight, dustproof,
made in the USA, and include adjustable
dividers and lid organizers designed by
Think Tank Photo.
Now in 22 case sizes &FRQȴJXUDWLRQV
to meet ALL your photo, video, and
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New Tools Of The Trade
Sony HVL-F60RM Flash
The HVL-F60RM Flash is a new lagship strobe with guide number 60, geared to address the
needs of the growing number of Sony photographers.
The HVL-F60RM Flash covers illumination angles from 20mm to 200mm and provides uniform
wide-range zoom coverage without shading. Built using heat-resistant materials and equipped
with new advanced algorithms, this new lash has an increased heat resistance of up to 4x than
the previous HVL-F60M. Recycle time has also been reduced to 1.7/0.6 seconds when using
the External Battery Adaptor (FA-EBA1). As with other Sony lashes, this new offering also has
the Quick Shift Bounce feature, which lets photographers quickly shift orientation for lexible
positioning and excellent lighting for a wide range of shooting conditions.
The HVL-F60RM Flash also has a nondirectional wireless radio communication feature. With
this functionality, studio equipment interfering with optical communication between lashes is no
longer a problem. Receiver lash units can be placed anywhere, at up to approximately 100 feet
away from the camera. When attached to a compatible camera, it can be used as a transmitter
for working with up to 15 lash units in up to 5 groups serving as receivers.
Price: $600 Website:
Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI
The Canon Speedlite 470EX-AI Flash is a new strobe system specially designed
for entry-level and enthusiast photographers. This unique lash boasts of an Auto
Intelligent (AI) Bounce technology, which automatically and intelligently indicates the
best bounce angle to produce the ideal illumination when shooting.
The AI Bounce works by factoring in two distance variables: the distance between
the camera and the ceiling, and the distance between the camera and the subject.
With this technology, photographers who are just getting into lash photography can
make use of the best lighting and the natural brightness of the room they’re shooting
in. Photographers with more advanced lash photography skills can set the horizontal
or vertical direction of their camera, and the lash will remember the previous bounce
angle and revert to that position.
Price: $400 Website:
10 | Digital Photo Pro
Sony a7 III
The company's "basic model"
is anything but Text & Photography By David Schloss
changes the conversation about price
versus performance in both the mirrorless and DSLR markets, and it makes
any potential move into this market by
Nikon and Canon more fraught.
The a7 III has a 24.2 MP sensor, 693point phase-detect and 425-point contrast detection AF system, 10 fps shooting (both electronic and mechanical
shutter) with full AF and AE, and an
ISO range from 100-51200 (expandable
to ISO 204,800). This puts the specs of
the a7 III not only on par with cameras
in its price range (notably the Canon 6D
Mark II, which Sony seems particularly
to have targeted) but more expensive
cameras as well.
It also features an electronic shutter
“silent shooting,” 4K video recording
and eye detection AF and can capture
177 JPEG or 89 compressed raw files
before the buffer fills.
Sony a7 III Flips The Script
One of the quirky things about language is
the way in which a turn of phrase conveys something in one culture yet has
a slightly different nuance in another,
leaving some things, as they say, lost in
translation. When Sony announced its
new a7 III at its global launch event in
February and proudly proclaimed it to
be its “basic model,” the camera drew
literal and figurative applause while
the term “basic” fell to the stage with a
12 | Digital Photo Pro
linguistic thud.
There are negative connotations to
the word basic that, fortunately for
Sony, don’t actually relate to the a7 III.
It’s almost not worth mentioning this
marketing malapropism, except for the
fact that it frames the discussion about
the features included and, importantly,
left out of the a7 III, and raises a question about the current and future timing of Sony’s camera lineup. The a7 III
Up until now, Sony has seemed intent
on making a range of mirrorless cameras along its own (accelerated) timeline, with pricing a secondary concern.
The original a7 camera cost $1,700
when it was released in 2013, but it was
far from a perfect camera. As a first
entry in the full-frame mirrorless space,
it could afford to be a bit underpowered
because it was competing, essentially,
only against mirrorless APS-C and
Micro Four Thirds cameras.
Absent the focusing and frame-rate
power found in a pro-level DSLR of the
day, Sony instead competed in its ratio
of image quality to body size, and the
price of the a7 reflected the engineering
needed to get a full-frame body into a
compact body.
The Sony a7R arrived at the same
time with a price tag of $2,300, and
while it had an impressive 42 MP sensor, it, too, lagged behind DSLRs in
performance. When Sony announced
the a7S, it took the camera system in
new directions, splitting the line into
Sony some insurance against whatever
mirrorless full-frame bodies Nikon and
Canon finally introduce. If the competitors launch a mirrorless system, they
won’t just have to compete with premium-priced bodies, but will now have
to compete at the entry-level enthusiast
price point as well.
Sony a7 III And The Competition
a triumvirate designed to attract the
general-purpose photographer (with
the a7), the high-resolution wedding,
portrait and commercial photographer
(with the a7R) and the high-end video
shooter (with the a7S).
This is a strategy that’s not unfamiliar in photography—Nikon shooters
will likely remember the “h” and “s”
models of its flagship cameras, like the
D1X and D1H, which spit the lineup
into high-resolution and high-speed
capture offerings.
The a7 II repeated the naming and
the development cycle for the a7 series
in 2014 with the a7 II and the same
$1,700 price point. The a7 II came
much closer to equaling the DSLRs of
the day and, with its 5-Axis stabilization and 4K video capabilities, exceeded
the performance of some DSLRs.
When the Sony a9 arrived, it changed
the equation for the company (you can
read our review of the Sony a9 at because it offered
a 24 MP sensor with a frame rate and
focusing speed that exceeds that of the
best DSLRs. The Sony a9 takes the
concept of the a7—a mirrorless camera
with excellent image quality, designed
for all-around photography—and
supercharges that camera to give pro
sports, news and other shooters a highperformance boost.
This has caused Sony to flip the
script: Instead of the a7 being its best
example of full-frame mirrorless, the
a9 now has that mantle, and the a7 has
been rejiggered, quietly, to serve as a
camera that outpaces most competitors,
with enough concessions to pricing and
target audience to keep it affordable.
It’s also a model designed to provide
Perhaps more important than the
image capture speed the a9 brought to
Sony’s mirrorless offerings, the camera
resolved a large number of pain-points
experienced—and vocally expressed—
by Sony shooters. The a9 improved AF,
addressed the dreadful performance of
the a7-series battery, added dual card
slots, added a thumb control for focus
selection, improved the electronic viewfinder and tidied up the menu system.
These upgrades would have made the
a9 an attractive choice for most photographers, but the camera was designed
for sports, news and other fast-moving
subjects, and the price reflects that performance level. At around $5,000, it’s
not a good fit for general-purpose photographers, and at 24 MP it didn’t stack
up well resolution-wise against the
a7R II, either. Fortunately, Sony didn’t
wait long after releasing the a9 before
launching the a7R III.
The “mark 3” version of the a7R,
the a7R III (see our review at
features the same sensor as the a7R II
but a new processor that helps it resolve
an additional stop of dynamic range and
brings most of the other a9 improvements to the a7 body. Improved battery,
better AF, dual slots and the rest of the
physical and user-experience upgrades
came along for the ride. This put even
more pressure on the photographer
looking to buy an affordable system
with the ease of use of the a9—either
purchase a $5,000 camera with 24 MP
or a $3,200 camera with 42 MP.
I’ve heard some people comment that
Sony has enough power now that it can
use the a7 III to cannibalize its own
market share, but I think that misses the
point of the a7 III. Most of the people
who are going to buy the camera simply
didn’t have the funds or the justification
to spend between $3,200 and $5,000 on
a new body and then to throw lenses in
on top of that.
A photographer friend of mine who
specializes in family photography is
a perfect example of this bind. She
has been shooting DSLRs for decades
and was looking to switch to mirrorless when the a7R III arrived. Because
she still needs to use her DSLR as her
backup body, the cost of buying an a7R
III plus new glass was too high. She
purchased the a7R III but returned it
when she tried out shooting her lenses
with an adapter and found it slower
than her DSLR because she couldn’t
afford the a7R III and to also have to
purchase all new glass. With the a7 III,
she can buy a camera and one or two
prime lenses for the same price as the
a7R III alone.
Sony a7 III Strengths And Tradeoffs
If you’re looking for an in-depth analysis of the image quality of the a7 III,
this section might feel a bit short for
your tastes. Like the “mark two” versions of the a7 series and the a9, the
image quality on the a7 III is superb.
We have said this in previous reviews,
but there are no top-end full-frame
cameras today that suffer from image
quality issues. All the camera manufacturers make cameras that take amazing
photos; the only questions these days
are about performance. Just about the
only knock against Sony’s earlier cameras was that they were noisier at high
ISO, and that’s been addressed with the
a7 III/a7R III/a9.
The noise issue I alluded to earlier
has been addressed, meaning the Sony
a7 III has much, much cleaner files at
high ISO, on par with the a9, a7R III
and every other pro full-frame camera
system. Dynamic range is just around
15 stops, and thanks to the high ISO
ratings, that range is more useable in
low light as well.
Sony a7 III Video
The a7 III adds 4K video, giving it
similar 6K capture, 4K downsample May/June 2018 | 13
capabilities, 100Mbps internal recording, with no pixel binning. The camera
can capture in HLG (Sony’s no-fuss
High Dynamic Range profile), S-Log 2
and S-Log 3.
Combined with the phase-detect
system, plus the eye-detection AF, the
Sony a7 III is great for shoots of moving subjects.
I’d love to see an overhaul of the
touch AF system in general and better
indication of subject lock along with
a more useable touchscreen for focus
selection, but that’s a comment that
relates to the whole line of cameras, not
just the a7 III.
Sony a7 III Limitations
So what did Sony have to ditch to make
a $2,000 camera with so many impressive specs to make it the “basic” model?
The most visible (pardon the pun)
shortcoming is in the viewfinder,
which is the same one found on the
a7 II. It’s not a bad viewfinder per se,
but it’s not on par with the new viewfinder in the a7R III and a9. It’s still
bright enough and clear enough to
compose images with but isn’t quite as
versatile as the viewfinder on the other
new Sony cameras. This is especially
true for video users. During the Sony
media trip that introduced the new
camera, our friends at CameraStoreTV
lamented the lack of a better screen, as
it made focusing during video shooting
more cumbersome.
The imaging sensor in the Sony a9
merges a few technologies to speed up
the time it takes to read image data off
the sensor, which is part of the reason
the a9 can capture at 20 fps. It’s also
what allows the electronic shutter in
the a9 to operate with very little “rolling shutter,” an effect where very fastmoving objects can blur or appear out
of alignment when shooting in electronic shutter. (Mechanical shutter
isn't affected by this.) The Sony a7 III
doesn't read the data as quickly and so
can experience rolling shutter.
The other limitations are in comparison to the company’s other products. It’s
not as high of a frame rate as the a9, it’s
not as high resolution as the a7R III.
14 | Digital Photo Pro
Sony a7 III and the a9 Pedigree
The merging of features from the a9
camera into the a7 line has made the
differentiation between the cameras a
bit confusing. Nikon and Canon use
different iterations of numbers to indicate where a product sits—the singledigit D5 is a higher performance level
than the three-digit D500 or the fourdigit D5000, for example.
It looks like Sony is now using the
digit in the camera name to indicate the
power of the sensor. The a9 has the fastest sensor Sony makes, integrating some
technologies that aren’t on the a7 sensor. It will be interesting to see where
the model lineup goes in the next iteration — will Sony always make the “9”
model the one with the best sensor technology and the “7” line the next tier?
Sony a7 III Buying Recommendations
My photographic career started as an
adventure sports and travel photographer, and the a7 III outperforms the
first half-dozen professional cameras I
shot with, in terms of frame rate, image
quality, dynamic range, resolution and
autofocus, and it costs less than half the
sticker price of any of those pro bodies.
That means that a professional photographer can grab an a7 III and capture
images faster, with more resolution, a
wider range of ISO sensitivity and more
dynamic range than any camera available up until the last few years.
The a7 III also bumps shoulders with
the top-end DSLRs, falling below their
image frame rate but matching them
in dynamic range and ISO range, and
exceeding them in AF, most especially
face and eye detection.
Video-centric users would be wise
to hold off for a bit. Surely an a7s II is
right around the corner, and as the a7s
was the camera that launched Sony’s
video efforts, the a7s III is likely to have
better video capabilities and higher
ISO limits.
Photographers looking for the
utmost in speed should purchase the
a9. For the next tier of speed for general-purpose photography, the a7 III is
the camera of choice. The a7R III is the
camera for the photographer looking
for a high resolution sensor first and
speed second.
The a7 III is attractive to travel photographers (with a nice mix of price
and performance), photojournalists
(thanks to the silent shutter), many
sports photographers (you don’t need
20fps to capture golf), wedding photographers (either a primary body or
a backup body to an a7R II), plus all
manor of enthusiasts.
Luckily for photographers, Sony’s
“basic” camera is anything but, and
at $2,000 it’s both a great deal for the
majority of photographers and an indication of the maturity of Sony’s fullframe mirrorless market.
G|Drive Mobile SSD R-Series
Unmatched storage performance
in a hard drive that fits in your
pocket, with room to spare
By David Schloss
At some point in the relatively near future,
the traditional hard drive—comprised
of spinning platters of magnetic material—will disappear from the marketplace. The fragility of conventional
drives is offset by the low cost of production, but as solid-state memory
drops in price, the cost benefits of sticking with a large, delicate recording
device in computers will disappear, and
Solid State Drive (SSD) hard drives
will become the norm.
Already, computers like the iMac Pro
have ditched the hard drive in favor of
the SSD, using the extra space gained
in the swap to add more high-power
processing. Laptops are almost universally SSD-driven, and the primary
remaining use of traditional drives is in
high-capacity storage, where fast speeds
aren’t necessary, and the price is a primary concern.
The benefits of SSD drives are twofold: The chip-based storage offers both
high speed and small size. The G-Technology G|Drive mobile SSD R-Series is
a perfect example of how this storage
transition will change how photographers and videographers work.
The G|Drive mobile SSD is smaller
than the Apple mouse I'm using while
writing this review, smaller in every
16 | Digital Photo Pro
dimension. I can put the G|Drive mobile
SSD in my pocket, and it feels less cumbersome than my wallet.
The G|Drive mobile SSD comes in
500 GB, 1 TB and 2 TB configurations, priced at $180, $350 and $750,
respectively. With its ultra-fast USB-C
connection, the G|Drive mobile SSD
hits speeds of up to 560 MB/s, and in
our testing, we can get sustained rates
of about 530 MB/s for regular read/
write cycles.
The G|Drive mobile SSD R-Series 1
TB model accompanied me on a recent
video and photo shoot, and I used it for
all primary storage and editing of footage for Final Cut Pro and catalog storage for Capture One Pro. Thanks to
the performance, I was able to dump
massive amounts of footage onto the
G|Drive mobile SSD in a fraction of
the time a solid state drive would take.
In fact, a multi-gigabyte copy operation from the G|Drive mobile SSD to
the internal SSD that took around two
minutes took more than 20 minutes to
achieve on another portable hard drive
with 5400 RPM speeds. Eighteen minutes is a lot of time to regain on a shoot
for a single task.
The drive was also fast enough that
it served as my primary work drive for
Final Cut Pro video editing, and, thanks
to its small size, I could work with the
MacBook Pro and the G|Drive mobile
SSD on a plane, tucking the drive into
the magazine pouch on the seat in front
of me.
The G|Drive mobile SSD R-Series is
an unusual product in that there’s nothing negative to say about it. The prices
are, naturally, higher than comparably
sized traditional drives, but the prices
are much lower than they were just a
few years ago. For creatives generating
a lot of content on a shoot, who don't
want to bring a more extensive “transportable” system, this is a great solution.
For even a two-day video shoot, a 2 TB
drive would be a good choice, although
it would also be practical to use a 1 TB
G|Drive mobile SSD for proxy and optimized media, and a larger traditional
drive for storage of large files. This setup
would allow for fast video editing with
the 1 TB unit and a more affordable system of data storage for the original files.
While we’re not quite at the era where
all drives are inexpensive flash-based
media, we’re getting close, and the combination of power and performance of
the G|Drive mobile SSD results in an
excellent on-location storage choice, at a
reasonable price.
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Rotolight Neo 2
One light, endless possibilities for
still + motion work By David Schloss >> Photography by Peter Muller
The Rotolight Neo 2 is an exciting hybrid,
designed for an age where photographers and videographers increasingly
are the same person. The Neo 2 is a
high-powered, consistent LED light, but
it has a superpower, one that makes it
more versatile than just about any LED
on the market.
The Neo2 is a high-quality, precisionbuilt and color-accurate LED system,
18 | Digital Photo Pro
which is 85 percent brighter than the
original Neo, but the Neo2 is also a flash
system, able to produce strobe output at
up to 500 percent of the power of the
continuous lights. The Neo 2 has no
recycle times and a top speed of 1/8000th
of a second, allowing it to keep pace with
the fastest frame rate from any camera
on the market. On a single charge of six
AA batteries, the unit can flash more
than 85,000 times. (This isn’t a claim we
tested since that would take an incredible amount of patience, but the light did
operate for hours and hours on a single
set of batteries.)
The Neo 2 can operate both as a flash
and as a continuous modeling light, and
unlike modeling lights in strobes, which
come from a separate light source, what
you see with the modeling light on the
Neo 2 is what you get, in both light
coverage and color temperature. When
used as a flash, output increases but
color temperature doesn’t change.
Thanks to a partnership with Elinchrom, the Neo2 has a built-in Elinchrom Skyport receiver and can be
triggered by a Skyport transmitter from
up to nearly 700 feet away. The Skyport system automatically connects to
available lights at startup, meaning no
awkward setup as with some lighting
systems. It can also be triggered via a
cable if a $200 Skyport Transmitter isn’t
in your budget.
Multiple units can be triggered at once
thanks to the Skyport receiver, which
makes them as versatile as any dedicated
wireless strobe system. They’re not as
powerful as strobe systems like Nikon or
Canon’s Speedlights, but they’re significantly more versatile. At three feet, the
Neo 2 can output 2000 lux—which is
about twice the brightness of an overcast
day—and enough for an ƒ/8 exposure at
ISO 200 with flash.
I’ve sat several times with the people
at Rotolight, and they're fastidious about
the light quality and accuracy in their
products. I’ve heard several times about
how the LED elements are selected out of
batches and tested to be within a precise
tolerance to meet the CRI of 9 and TLCI
of 91. The Neo 2 can be adjusted from a
color temperature of 3150K to 6300K for
quick light balancing. Color filter packs
can be added to the front of the unit to
provide colored lighting on set.
Another smart feature on the Neo
2 is the ability to adjust the brightness
of the system based on the distance
from a subject. Photographers or videographers enter the ISO setting of the
camera, distance to the subject and
desired shutter speed. The system will
provide an ƒ-stop for the correct exposure based on its known light output. If
you want to change your aperture but
still maintain the same exposure without trial or error, just enter in the desired
ƒ-stop and the system will change
the lighting output to match the new
aperture setting.
There’s also a CineSFX mode that
enables the Neo2 to simulate a variety
of lighting effects, including flashing
police lights, lightning and old television
pictures, complete with the ability to
adjust the flicker rates and intensity. It’s
a smart way to quickly simulate lighting
effects for broadcast and motion picture
production (and is used for theatrical
productions as well).
The rear of the unit seems overly simplistic until you play with it for a while.
Two knobs and a red LCD screen provide the interface to the Neo2, but the
engineers have done an excellent job
making these simple controls handle all
of the unit’s features.
I’ve been carrying the Neo2 around
with me because it eliminates the need for
me to take both a strobe and an LED for
many types of shoots, and it’s surprisingly
versatile. During one shoot of mountain
bikers in the high desert, our professional
monolight system went down, and I was
still able to get some portraits thanks to
the Neo2 I had brought along. It’s also a
great companion when shooting videos
and when doing light painting during
astrophotography shoots.
I’m also partial to the round shape of
the Neo2, preferring it in many portrait
settings to the typical square or rectilinear LED units often seen on camera.
The form makes it more cumbersome to
pack, but I think the light is worth the
extra room it takes up in my bag.
The $400 price already puts it on par
with (or slightly cheaper than) many
other high-accuracy portables LED
lights, none of which can do double duty
as a flash system.
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Image by Max Seigal & Hanson Fong May/June 2018 | 19
Exceptional image quality abounds
in Nikon’s newest wide-angle lens
The Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED lens
replaces the venerable NIKKOR 28mm
f/1.4D, bringing a modern optical and
operational upgrade that gives the new
lens an incredible range of sharpness, low
levels of distortion and faster focusing.
The 28mm focal length is an interesting one, sitting within the range of
classic landscape-friendly zooms like
a 24-70mm or a 16-35mm. The 28mm
focal length is longer than the typical
wide-angle lenses loved by landscape
and nature photographers. It is, though,
a standard focal length found on compact travel cameras and for good reason.
The 28mm length is just long enough to
20 | Digital Photo Pro
Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E ED
Text & Photography By David Schloss
create relatively wide-angle shots without a lot of corner distortion or subject
warping. Used in the right way, it’s also
an excellent environmental portrait
choice, giving photographers the ability
to make a portrait that takes in a lot of a
subject’s location.
With a maximum aperture of ƒ/1.4,
Nikon’s AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4E
ED lens gives photographers a greater
range of flexibility with depth of field
and background blur than does the
28mm focal length in typical 16-35mm
f/4 or 24-70mm f/4 lenses. Since a lens is
usually sharpest a few stops from wide
open, a 28mm f/1.4 will theoretically be
sharper at ƒ/2.8 than a 24-70mm f/2.8 at
its widest settings. As a result, images
shot with the 28mm f/1.4 should have
excellent sharpness when stopped down
to ƒ/2.8 or above.
Interior Overhaul
Nikon’s Nikkor 28mm f/1.4D first hit
the market in 1999 and was in production until 2006, consistently considered
one of Nikon’s best lenses. This newest
incarnation is a ground-up redesign of
the optics, which are housed in a plastic body (versus the metal body of the
previous lens). The new lens has 14
elements in 11 groups, which includes
three aspherical elements and two ED
elements. Nikon has also used its Nano
Crystal Coat and Super Integrated Coat
to reduce ghosting and flaring.
To smooth out the background blur
and create beautiful bokeh, the lens has a
rounded nine-blade diaphragm. Bokeh
wasn’t a significant design consideration
in the 1990s when the previous lens
was designed, but manufacturers have
recently been engineering this soft-focus
characteristic into their lenses.
The newest Silent Wave motor drives
focusing on the internal elements, making for a quiet, smooth lens. The lens
is internally focused, which means that
the lens doesn’t increase from its nearly
4-inch length during focusing.
This isn’t a svelte lens, with a width
nearly equal to its length and a weight
of 1.42 pounds, the 28mm adds a good
amount of heft to the camera, though it
feels well balanced.
Shooting Experience
The AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.4 E ED
is fast and quiet, exactly as advertised. Subjects lock quickly. Coupled to the Nikon D850 (read our
review at
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anniversary-present-nikon-d850-review/), a camera that we’ve found has
exceptional autofocus performance, the
lens was particularly impressive. In one
shoot, I needed to single out a small
white flowering desert plant from a sea
of red ones, all the exact shape and texture, and the lens had no problem isolating precisely what I wanted to frame.
The background blur in the lens is
equally exceptional. In the same image,
the lens rendered the neighboring buds
with just enough detail to see the similarity between them, but quickly threw the
background softly out of focus. Thanks
to the wide ƒ/1.8 aperture, I could try a
variety of different compositions just by
changing the depth of field.
The lens was a perfect fit for astrophotography as well, with a wide enough
angle to capture both stars and foreground. Because most lenses are sharpest a few stops down from wide open, I
could do night photography with confidence about the sharpness of my images
around ƒ/2.8 to maximize sharpness, yet
22 | Digital Photo Pro
still have an impressive amount of light
entering the lens.
On a full-moon night, I set up the lens
to capture a foreground of buildings with
a background of stars, which required
me to stop down and focus on the structures and increase my exposure time.
Both the stars and the buildings are tacksharp, and there was little or no instance
of coma—a type of distortion typical in
wide-angle lenses that would cause the
stars to appear to have small tails.
Because the lens uses a modern focusing system, the focus ring is “fly by
wire,” which means that turning the
focus ring sends a signal to the camera to
adjust the focus motor rather than moving a physical element in the lens. As a
result, focusing at night on the building
was a bit tricky, having no focus distance
indicators on the lens.
There’s very little (to no) chromatic
aberration with the 28mm f/1.4E lens.
I shot quite a bit of high-contrast subject matter with the bright sky behind
a colorful edge, and there’s almost no
indication of CA at the edges. The
coatings Nikon employs to reduce flaring do a great job—many of my test
images were shot directly into the sun,
with a burst of bright light in the corner
of the frame, and there are only a few
images with any hint of flare. There's
some vignetting, though that’s difficult
to avoid at these wide angles.
The 28mm focal length might not
be the perfect choice for every photographer, but it’s a versatile one, which
offers a wide range of possibilities, from
landscape to portraits. The Nikon Nikkor 28mm f/1.4 E ED is an exceptional
example of what modern lens design and
engineering can achieve. It’s an excellent
lens to pack along on a shoot, even if you
don’t anticipate using it, although the
nearly $2000 price tag makes is a lens
that will make it attractive mostly to
those with a business need for this focal
length. For landscape and astro photographers, it’s a must-have lens, and a great
successor to Nikon’s previously vaunted
28mm lens.
Power Editing Using
Adobe Lightroom Classic CC
Mastering a few high-octane
tools can speed up your
Text & Photography By Brian Matiash
Developing a powerful software application
that proves to be intuitive for an end
user is no easy feat. Adobe Lightroom
Classic CC is a perfect example of this.
There are so many nuanced considerations about the User Experience (UX),
User Interface (UI) and accessibility
of all those power features that have
to be made early on and, sometimes, it
results in the obfuscation of truly powerful tools. Ultimately, software developers have to choreograph a ballet that
balances the discoverability of all these
powerful features without overwhelming the user with an unnecessarily
complicated UI. Unfortunately, this
typically results in the user never discovering some of the application’s most useful tools and features. Fortunately, I’m
here to pull the rug on some of Lightroom’s most powerful—and somewhat
hidden—features that will add serious
power to your photo editing workflow.
Before we begin, I’d like to highlight
that several of the tricks listed below
make heavy use of modifier keys. A
modifier key will modify an action or
tool when it’s pressed in conjunction
with another key or when interacting
with a click or slider. On the Mac, the
most common modifier keys are the
Shift, Option, Control and Command
keys. On Windows, users have the Shift,
Alt and Control keys. In this article,
we’ll be focusing on the Option/Alt
key. As a Mac user, I’ll be using Option
(Opt) as reference, so for the Windows
users out there, replace “Opt” with
“Alt,” and you’ll be able to follow along
in harmony.
24 | Digital Photo Pro
The Quick Reset
One of my favorite panels in Lightroom’s Develop module is Hue/Saturation/Luminance (HSL). I rely on those
sliders very heavily as I dial in specific
colors, as well as how strong and bright
they appear. However, it’s not uncommon for me to make a snap decision to
start over and retune the sliders in this
panel, and if I didn’t know that I could
reset all of the sliders at once, it would be
a laborious chore.
Let’s use this photo of a stream in
Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge and
the respective HSL values I dialed in to
grade it.
By ine-tuning the sliders in the HSL panel, I
was able to grade this photo of a rapidly moving
stream in Oregon. As you can see, nearly every
slider was adjusted accordingly to suit my
creative vision for the image. When you press
and hold the Opt/Alt key, you’ll see the option to
reset each of the three slider sections.
While it may look like all those sliders were haphazardly adjusted, each one
serves a specific purpose and ultimately
led to the end result. However, there
have been instances where I’ve chosen to
go a different route with this panel, and
rather than manually return each slider
to its default “0” position, I can batch
reset each section by simply pressing and
holding on the Opt key. Doing so reveals
a “Reset” option for the Hue, Saturation
and Luminance sliders. While holding
on the Opt key, if I click on the Reset Hue
button, for example, it will automatically
return each slider under the Hue section
back to their default “0” positions.
This hidden trick has saved me a lot
of time and allows me to focus more
on the creative process rather than
the manual chore of resetting each
slider individually.
Toning With Power
The histogram should be one of your
closest friends in Lightroom. Within
this lovely graph of peaks and valleys
lies a visual representation of the highlights, shadows and mid-tones that your
image is made up of. More importantly,
the histogram will show you where your
image has any blown-out highlights or
clipped shadows, areas where there’s no
tonal information because it’s too bright
or too dark, respectively. To correct for
this, you’ll likely be using a combination
of sliders found in the Basic panel of the
Develop module.
You’ll likely be using the Exposure,
Highlights, Shadows, Whites and
Blacks sliders to adjust the tone of the
photo with the (typical) goal of recovering lost highlight and shadow detail.
However, wouldn’t it be great to see
exactly where those blown-out highlights and clipped shadows were while
dragging those sliders? The good news
is that you can by using the Opt/Alt key.
Let’s use this photo of a verdant forest in
Oregon. By looking at the histogram, I
can instantly see that I have both blownout highlights and clipped shadows
because I can see that the warning indicators for both are illuminated.
Now that I know that I have tonal
information that needs recovering, it’d be
great to visualize those areas while dragging on the Basic panel sliders. To get a
graphical representation of the threshold
of my image’s tonal range, I can press the
Opt key while clicking and holding on
any of the sliders under the Basic pane.
For the sliders affecting the brighter parts
of the image (Exposure, Highlights and
Whites), the image will turn black, and
anything blown out will appear white.
For the sliders affecting the darker parts
of the image (Shadows and Blacks), the
image will turn white, and any clipped
areas will be shown in black and yellow.
With this information, it makes
applying fine tonal corrections very
easy because I can see exactly where I’ve
exceeded the threshold of my image’s
tonal range. All I need to do is adjust
the respective sliders to the left or right
until the threshold preview is either just
about all black or all white. Correcting
the image’s tone takes no time at all,
and I’m left with a truer representation
of the scene.
Total Sharpening Control
When I’m out photographing landscapes, I’m focusing on getting a good
composition and capturing all of the natural beauty in front of me. I’m not really
This photo has a very wide dynamic range
with the bright sun and the dark shadows.
As a result, the histogram is showing blownout highlights and clipped shadows by
illuminating warning icons. The illuminated
triangle in the top left indicates clipped
shadows, and the illuminated triangle in the
top right indicates blown-out highlights. May/June 2018 | 25
Both of these images represent the brightest and darkest parts of my photo where I have no tonal
information. I can use the sliders under the Basic panel in an attempt to recover that information.
By making the necessary
adjustments to the tonality of my
photo, the histogram now shows
no tone warnings, and my image
is ready for further processing.
concerning myself with how sharp my
image is (not to be confused with ensuring proper focus). That’s because I know
Lightroom has really effective sharpening tools that make it easy to sculpt out
important details and textures.
Let’s use this photo of a boulder sitting
in the middle of a stream as our example.
First, we’ll bring the Detail panel into
view. This is where your sharpening controls are. By default, I have no additional
sharpening applied to the photo because
that’s how I have Lightroom configured
(we’ll cover that in the next section).
When I zoom in for a 1:1 view of the
boulder, I notice that it’s missing some
sharpening. Remember, it’s completely
in focus, but it could stand out a bit more
in terms of texture. So, the appropriate
course of action is to add sharpening.
However, if you’re like me, you want
to know exactly how much sharpening
you’re applying (to prevent over-sharpening), and you want to control where
26 | Digital Photo Pro
the sharpening effect is applied (to prevent sharpening any naturally smooth
regions like skies, water, etc.).
Fortunately, here’s another instance
where the Opt/Alt key shines brightly.
Not only can it help you visualize the
effect that the sharpening is having on
your photo, but it can also display exactly
where it’s being applied and where it’s
being masked out. To start, I always prefer zooming in at a 1:1 or 2:1 factor when
sharpening. I feel that this gives me the
best preview of the changes being made.
I first start by clicking the Opt key while
dragging the Amount slider to the right.
You’ll notice your image turn greyscale
because it’s much easier to concentrate
on the effects of sharpening when you
I prefer not having any
sharpening applied to my
photos until I’m nearing the
end of the post-processing.
By default, Lightroom adds a
small amount unless you have
it conigured otherwise.
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Lightroom Defaults Your Way
It’s important to zoom in
with a 1:1 view on your
primary plane of focus to
determine how sharp your
photo is. Doing so will
also tell you whether you
need to apply additional
By pressing and holding
on the Opt/Alt key while
dragging on the Amount
slider, your image will be
rendered in greyscale,
making it much easier to
see the way Sharpening
is being applied to your
While it’s important to
properly sharpen your
photo, it’s equally important
to control where that effect
is applied. There’s no
need to add sharpening
to smooth areas, and the
Masking slider makes the
task of suppressing that
very easy.
remove color from the equation. I find
this to be immensely helpful and begin
to see detail being restored almost
immediately. The Amount slider controls the overall effect of sharpening, so
be careful not to overdo it.
Finally, I want to ensure that the
sharpening applies to the areas that actually need it. I usually prefer to keep naturally smooth areas, like skies and soft
backgrounds, free of sharpening. The
Masking slider takes a unique approach
here by analyzing the image content and
applying sharpening to high-contrast
areas and masking, or removing, it
28 | Digital Photo Pro
from flatter areas. By pressing the Opt
key while dragging the Masking slider,
you’ll see a mask gradually build up.
The areas in white are your targeted
areas where sharpening is applied. As
you drag the slider more, you’ll notice
more areas turn black. These areas
will have sharpening suppressed. I prefer to have a full zoomed-out preview
of the image while using the Masking
slider. As I drag the Masking slider to
the right, I can see that the Sharpening
effect is being removed from the flatter areas, like the running water and
shadow areas.
I saved one of my favorite hidden features for last. This trick will allow you
to control exactly which settings get
applied to every photo you import into
Lightroom as opposed to the default
settings that Adobe provided. Let’s say
you’re the type of photographer who
likes a lot of contrast automatically
applied to your image. Or you enjoy
running the temperature slider a little
on the cooler side. Or maybe you don’t
want any sharpening to be applied to
your photos, as I referred to in the previous section (because Lightroom adds
a Sharpening amount of 25 to every
imported photo by default).
Fortunately, it’s very easy to set your
own custom default state of the Develop
Module for all imported photos of
a given camera model. First, get the
Develop Module to a state that you’d
want applied to all imported photos
going forward. Next, press and hold the
Opt/Alt key while hovering on what
normally is the Reset button at the very
bottom of the Develop module panels list. As you hold down the Opt/Alt
key, the Reset button will change and
display as “Set Default....” By clicking
this button, you’ll be presented with a
dialog box asking you to confirm that
you want to set the current Develop settings as default for the photos created
by the respective camera model. When
you click on the “Update to Current
Settings” button, all subsequent photos
taken with that camera model will have
your new default settings applied. It’s an
easy way to save time by not having to
repeat the same steps over and over.
So, there you have it. These are just a
few ways that Lightroom can open up a
new level of precision with your image
editing process.
Brian Matiash is a professional landscape and travel photographer, published
author and podcaster based out of Lincoln,
Nebraska. He specializes in fusing photography with experiential storytelling and
practical instruction to help others grow
creatively. He also co-hosts the “No Name
Photo Show,” one of the most popular
photography podcasts in Apple iTunes.
Under Pressure
Jerry Ghionis
By Mark Edward Harris >> Photography by Jerry Ghionis
atrimony, wedlock, nuptials, union—no matter what you call it, the
events that take place on a wedding day put extreme pressure on the
photographers who are tasked with capturing its essence. There are no
redos of the big day.
The Las Vegas- and Melbourne, Australia-based U.S. Nikon Ambassador Jerry
Ghionis has been furnishing his clients with lifetime memories for the past 25 years.
He’s able to bring out the most in his couples with the eyes of a fashion photographer,
the awareness of a portraitist and the storytelling ability of a documentarian.
While the 2016 AIPP Australian Fashion Photographer of the Year’s projects include beauty portraits, fashion assignments, boudoir sessions and speaking
engagements around the world, we explore his approach to his work in the realm of
the wedding.
30 | Digital Photo Pro
Digital Photo Pro: Your style has been
described as vintage glamour meeting
contemporary fashion. Wedding photography at its best requires a wide array of
skills across many photographic genres.
Jerry Ghionis: Anyone who has ever
photographed a wedding knows that
wedding photography is one of the hardest genres to master because you’re photographing so many different genres at
one time. For example, you’re essentially
shooting wedding, portrait, boudoir,
landscape, streetscape, product, fashion,
jewelry, documentary, in the constraints
of a day with the pressure of different
cultures and family dynamics. It’s definitely not an easy genre to master.
You’re also working with amateurs
rather than the professional models you
work with on a fashion shoot. How do you
get the most out of “real” people?
People are going to want to laugh
with you before they cry with you, so
it’s all about building trust. I build trust
with my empathy and humor. That
starts way before the wedding in terms
of building a rapport and relationship
with the couple and the family. They
book you for the very reason that they
get along with you and then you manifest that relationship, so then on the day
of the wedding, things are a little bit
easier. Obviously, on the wedding day
everyone is getting distracted because so
many things are going on. It’s the little
things that I say and do to disarm my
couples and families. More often than
not, I’ll crack a joke or say something
funny, or sometimes just remind them
of the importance of the occasion.
How many people do you bring in to
work with you? May/June 2018 | 31
It’s just my wife, Melissa, and myself.
She will often shoot the behind-thescenes videos for my wedding photography training site. Sometimes she’ll shoot
stills during the ceremony and at the
reception as well. I believe that a wedding photographer should have a story
in their mind, and build that story and
design the album as they photograph. I
might get a photograph from a second
shooter that might be great, but where
would I put it because it might not relate
to the story?
Sometimes people are dressed in period
outits or following a speciic theme. How
does that come about?
Every so often, a couple will walk in
and theme their wedding, whether it’s a
vintage theme, has a fairytale aspect to
it, a Moulin Rouge theme, anything like
that, and we go from there. I might see
a couple with a particular sense of style,
and I might throw out some suggestions
in terms of where to go to photograph or
what accessories to wear and things like
32 | Digital Photo Pro
that, but it has to suit the couple.
What’s your photographic approach to
a wedding?
I tend to shoot very simply. Typically
on a wedding day, I will have a Nikon
D5 and a Nikon D850 and sometimes a
Nikon D500, and I can push their ISOs
to 12,000 without much problem. Obviously that ability has changed the way I
photograph. Most of the time, at a ceremony in a dark church, for example,
I don’t shoot with flash. I started my
career in 1993, and my first professional
camera was a Mamiya RB67. I used UV
filters with varying degrees of nail polish on them when I wanted a softer look.
One had a thin layer of polish just on the
area where I placed the bride’s face. I
shot with 400 ISO film and a Metz flash.
I learned with that flash how to bounce
it in a way that made it less flash-obvious
and more natural and directional. And I
still use that technique to this day. .
Is there a go-to lens you typically
work with?
Ghionis likes to approach a wedding shoot
with a story in mind, and capture images to
tell that story.
The NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8. I
love the compression of it. I like to shoot
closer rather than farther away. Capturing faces and expressions is a lot more
soulful than the good old landscape with
little people. I love the new NIKKOR
105mm f/1.4 lens, and I’m also a big fan
of the NIKKOR 105mm f/2.8 Macro.
What about for artiicial lighting?
I carry two speedlights, two of my
Ice Lights and an Omega reflector, and
that’s it. I don’t want to get bogged down
with large equipment, especially on a
wedding day. It’s cumbersome, takes too
much time and requires extra assistants.
I’d rather be photographing more than
setting up lights at every turn. I’ve taught
many thousands of photographers over
the years, and there’s a continuing trend
toward bringing strobes on location,
especially at a wedding, but I find that
By using natural light, and augmenting it with
a small selection of lighting gear, Ghionis
captures a more "natural" image.
the work starts looking the same because
you’re using the same light source and
setup for each portrait. If your strobe is
your main light source, then every single
image is going to have a similar look and
feel to it. Some might say that’s a blessing,
I would say it’s a curse because it looks a
bit stagnant, and all of your work blends
in together. If what’s available works,
I’ll use it. If that light source is not good
enough, then I’ll add light, whether it’s
a Speedlight, an Ice Light or a reflector.
How did you come up with the idea of
using Ice Lights?
One of my favorite light sources is window light, and I thought, “Wouldn’t it
be cool to bring window light with you
everywhere you go?” At the time, the
closest thing that resembled window light
was continuous daylight-balanced fluorescent. But it isn’t really feasible to carry
fluorescent around with you because the
tubes back then were glass, they mostly
are these days as well. LED lights were
coming out, but most were square or circular and emitted just one quality of light.
So I partnered up with Westcott, and we
created the Ice Light. It looks like a glorified lightsaber. It’s a continuous daylightbalanced light source weighing 20 ounces
and has a 1740 lumen output.
Having grown up with “Star Wars,”
a cylindrical light source seemed to be
quite obvious. If you hold it vertical to
the subject, it’s quite sharp in terms of
contrast. It’s like walking into a dark
room and drawing the curtains open a
bit to get a sliver of light. When you hold
it horizontal to a subject, then you get a
softer light because it’s larger in proportion to the subject. It’s like opening up
the blinds. I have since created a reflector
with Westcott as well, the world’s first 15
in 1 reflector, called the Omega Reflector. Most people have a 5-in-1 reflector.
This one has a hole in it, which means
that you can not only use it as a normal
reflector, but you can shoot through
it. So all you need is a subject with the
light behind them, and you get this soft,
even beauty light bouncing right back at
them. It’s reminiscent of a beauty dish,
with the catch light of a ring flash. You
can also use the mini reflectors that are
the holes in [the] doughnut, as I call
them, independently. The Ice Lights can
be handheld or put on a stand. You bring
out the Ice Lights, and the groomsmen
want to play with them.
Your relatively small equipment list
makes it easier for you to hop on a plane
for destination weddings.
It was never my intension to focus on
them, but things have evolved that way.
When I was grounded in Melbourne, I
would drive to every wedding and shoot
around 100 weddings a year. As I started
to work and live in the States then my
availability and price point eliminated
a lot of potential clients in Australia.
I lived in Los Angeles for six or seven May/June 2018 | 33
years. Now we have a base in Las Vegas
with a large studio converted from an
RV garage. Most of our weddings are
destination weddings now—mostly
within the United States, and some overseas as well. We also do our online educational broadcasts from there and also
have a dedicated teaching room for the
wedding and portrait world.
My business has organically grown to
have a good number of destination weddings a year. I would encourage newer
wedding photographers to establish
themselves in the markets where they
live, though. Most people who shoot destination weddings do not charge what
they should be charging. They charge
their normal rate plus return travel. If you
can’t shoot a second or third wedding on
a weekend, then you’re losing that money
and you’re wasting a day traveling each
direction and have jetlag. Typically when
someone books us for a destination wedding it will be for a price that’s worth the
investment of time. A destination wedding is normally $15,000-$20,000, and
then we upgrade from there depending
on what they want.
Is it all spelled out on your wedding website?
We want to speak with our potential
clients. If you give them too much information on the website, there’s no reason
for them to call you. Couples should
book you based on your personality first,
then your quality, and then the value.
Normally when people don’t know
you, they’re shopping on price because
they don’t know any better, they don’t
know what to ask. That’s why the price
question normally comes up first. We
quickly divert that question to, “Hey,
get to know me first, buy me a drink—
metaphorically. In other words, let’s chat
a little bit. Let’s just see if we’re a good
fit. Let’s hear a bit about your wedding”
and so on and so forth. I want them to
picture me in front of them all day on
their wedding day.
Our standard price will include a collection of photographs and an album.
Then, depending on the quantity, they
can upgrade, which they often do. The
34 | Digital Photo Pro
biggest upgrade that people normally do
are extra sides in their album. They also
upgrade on wall art and parent albums.
What are a couple of weddings that
stand out among the countless ones
you’ve photographed?
I did a five-day wedding in Rome. It
was a beautiful Lebanese family that
lives in Dubai. Every event they had was
more exotic than the other. They had
lunch events, evening events, they got
married the day before Valentine’s Day,
so the day after the wedding there was
a Valentine’s Day affair where everyone wore red. The locations in Rome
were amazing, to photograph in those
places was incredible. It probably is the
most memorable wedding that I photographed other than my own.
Isn’t that a bit like a doctor doing surgery on his or herself?
I told Melissa that I was going to
photograph the bride’s coverage. I said,
“I’m in love with you and I’m a photographer…so who’s better to photograph you?” I did her coverage, then I
ended up photographing us together in
a mirror. It was lots of fun and a beautiful experience.
What initially drew you to weddings?
I was given my first camera at the
age of 15 and quickly became obsessed
with photography. I photographed anything and everything, from landscapes
to sports, as a high school hobby. Then I
worked at a few camera shops just to be
in the game and signed up for a four-year
photography course. After a year I quit,
because they were just teaching photography out of a textbook. I wanted practical street-smart knowledge. I knocked
on the door of a popular studio owned by
Peter Barlow in Melbourne and basically
said, “I love your work, I want to carry
your bags and be your assistant.” They
said yes, and I did that for the following year and a half or two years with no
pay, and then ended up becoming their
main photographer. “Why did I choose
to knock on a wedding photographer’s
door?” At first I had wanted to be a fashion photographer and be around pretty
girls, but then I thought, “Most people
Ghionis belives wedding photography is one
of the hardest genres because of the array of
things to photograph.
get married, so photographing weddings
would be an easier way to make money.”
And also I realized back then that this
would be the best “school” to learn my
craft. You’re always problem solving
when you’re shooting weddings. I consider myself a photographer, not a wedding photographer. I photograph people. That includes weddings, portraits,
fashion, boudoir, anything where I direct
the subject.
I believe as a business owner, we
shouldn’t be doing our own Photoshop.
I teach photographers about business as
well. You’re wasting a lot of time because
anyone can do it. People will say, “Well,
no, nobody can do it like me.” Yes, that’s
true. Of course, no one can do it like
you, but with direction and some handholding the work will be beautiful. My
Photoshop is actually very simple. All
I ask for is skin retouching and color
correction. I gravitate toward a fashion
magazine look to the skin, where you
can see all the pores but the skin is flawless. Sometimes a little bit of nipping and
tucking. You don’t see over-the-top Photoshop in my work. I don’t do vignettes,
filters or actions. Some wedding photographers use a Gaussian blur on the bride,
and she can sometimes look like a Barbie doll. I want my signature look to be
done in camera. So that’s the way I pose,
the way I light, the way I evoke emotion.
That’s the soul of the image.
A wedding is one of the most important, if not the most important, days in a
person’s life. It brings families together
even when they’re not always united in
their normal lives. To capture someone at their most excited state or at
their most vulnerable is quite beautiful.
There is such a rich story in front of you.
A wedding is a real event. It’s made up
of real moments, but it’s a beautiful fantasy world.
DPP May/June 2018 | 35
Seeing the world in
full color
36 | Digital Photo Pro
Joel Meyerowitz reflects on his legendary career
By Mark Edward Harris >> Photography By Joel Meyerowitz
he Greek fabulist and storyteller Aesop is credited with
the saying, “A man is known
by the company he keeps.” In the
case of Joel Meyerowitz, this ancient
adage rings true. He “discovered”
photography on a shoot with Robert
Frank. Soon afterward, he was walking the streets of New York, camera
in hand, with Garry Winogrand. But
Meyerowitz soon took his own path,
focusing his efforts in the world of
color photography, something that in
the early 1960s wasn’t part of the “fine
art” approach to his newly found form
of expression.
More than half a century later, we
can look back through—in inverse
Digital Photo Pro: What’s the idea behind
the present-to-past format of your
new retrospective?
Meyerowitz: “Retrospective”
means you’re standing in the present
looking backwards. It’s interesting conceptually because when you’re young
and you start out, you have no idea
where you’re going to end up 50 years
down the road. But when you’re 50
years down the road and look back, you
can see all the turns you made and the
turns you didn’t make. Your alignment
through time becomes clearer.
Are there some turns you wish you had
made and others where you would have
been better off continuing straight?
There were a couple of projects along
the way that were dead ends at the times
chronological order—his recently
released retrospective, “Joel Meyerowitz: Where I Find Myself” (Laurence
King Publishing), to see how his
career unfolded.
Meyerowitz is now based in Tuscany,
and the newly-turned octogenarian is finding inspiration in the work
of Italian painter and printmaker
Giorgio Morandi who specialized in
still lifes. This is just the latest chapter in a career that has ranged from
“capturing the jazzy riff of life on
the street” in urban America and scenes
painted with the magical light of Cape
Cod to documenting the aftermath of
9/11 and creating penetrating “eyes are
the window to the soul” portraits.
I did them. One in particular was making large-format fake panoramic pictures by putting together three vertical
panels of people on the beach. They
were very playful and interesting to me
about time and space, with some people
ending up in more than one panel. But
they required a kind of directorial point
of view, and at that time I was still close
enough to my street photography roots
that I thought, “You know, I’m not that
interested in directing.” If you’re going
to direct, you should have something you
want to say, and I was only experimenting with the form. I didn’t have a social
or political point of view that I wanted
to enter, so I let go of it. In retrospect,
I look at them and think, “Why was I
so precious about the street photography May/June 2018 | 37
point of view where you don’t touch
anything?” That was one turning point
that, in retrospect, I would have liked to
have continued further with because it
was very engaging when I was doing it.
The three images
look seamless.
And these were made in the days
when there was no Photoshop. I would
put a little twig or something in the
sand, so I knew where the edge of the
picture was and I knew where the horizon line was, so I had two intersecting
points that allowed me to make the panoramas. I printed them quite large, 4
feet tall, and taped them together in the
back, then used dyes on the edges so that
you wouldn’t see the white paper. Tan
dye for the sand and blue for the sky,
etcetera. You could see the process, but
they looked pretty good considering that
we didn’t have Photoshop to make them
as seamless as we can today.
You often equate jazz music to photography, especially when talking about the
38 | Digital Photo Pro
rhythm of the street. Are you a musician?
No. In my family, we used to say that
the only thing we played was the radio.
The street is all spontaneous. You can
never really predict what is going to happen next. So in a way, the relationship to
unfolding events is a kind of inspired riff
on whatever’s happening and trying to
be in the right place at the right time so
that there is a harmony between what’s
going on there and what your intuition
is. There is something improvisatory
about one’s behavior on the street....That
feels jazz-like to me.
Robert Frank was one of the photographers who had a major influence on you.
Seeing him at work was one of those
formative moments. I was working as a
graphic designer/art director in a small
advertising agency and had designed a
booklet, and my boss, Harry Gordon,
hired Robert to shoot the pictures for
it. I knew nothing about photography.
Harry said, “Here’s the address. Go to
this place. Robert has set up a shoot with
Putting himself in the right places and
becoming part of the flow is key to how
Meyerowitz approaches photography—which
he says all great street photographers are
successful at doing.
two young girls to cover the things you
need for the booklet.”
I went down and watched Robert for
over an hour photographing two 12-yearold girls. They weren’t professionals, he
must have gotten some friends of his
daughter. He had them do the afterschool things that they would normally
do, and he became invisible to them.
Just by moving his body or whispering a
word, they would continue their action.
What struck me so strongly was the fact
that they were moving and he was moving, and he was taking pictures at the
same time. He never once said, “Stop.
Hold that pose. Lift your chin.” And I
think that was the turning point for me.
It was as if I had a fresh idea. I was innocent. I had no camera. I knew nothing
about photography, but the concept that
Having accidentally picked color ilm as a student in art school, Meyerowitz set himself apart from contemporary photographers and deined his style.
At one point he composed a series of images in both color and black and white to show how color was crucial in his shots.
you could go out on the street and watch
the movement of people, and you could
stop that at some point that seemed to
have meaning was a revelation.
When I left that shoot, everything on
that street seemed to come alive to me.
The simplest gestures. “Taxi!” It was like
drama. Suddenly, everything seemed to
have some underlining meaning. It was
one of those transformative moments. I
stopped being what I was before, and I
became this other person who wanted
to be out on the street making photographs. I went back to my office and told
the agency about the shoot and quit my
job. “I’ll finish the design, and on Friday
I’m leaving.” It was as if my life changed
right in front of me.
What was the product that was being
marketed in the brochure?
Condé Nast was our main client, and
they had a bunch of magazines that they
did for certain clients, like KimberlyClark, who made Kleenex and other
cosmetic products. Estelle Ellis, who
owned the agency, was trying to sell
products to pre-teenagers because she
saw the potential market there, and her
job for Condé Nast was to increase their
market by finding new ways to reach
these kids. Estelle came up with the
slogan—“they’re tenteen before they’re
thirteen.” This was 1962, and it's still a
good example of how marketing works.
How did you go about learning photography for yourself?
My boss at the agency was so sweet.
He said, “Well, if you’re going to be a
photographer, you have to have a camera. Do you have a camera?” I said, “No,
I don’t.” He pulled out an Asahi Pentax:
“Use this until you can afford to buy a
camera.” He showed me how to use the
camera, so all I did was go out on the
street with a couple of rolls of color film
and just began to figure it out.
It’s interesting that in 1962 you went
out on the streets as a student with color
ilm. Why did you reach up instead of down
or left instead of right when you got to the
ilm section of the store?
I didn’t know any better. At that time,
I didn’t know that serious photography
was done in black and white. I had seen
some photo annuals—puppies leaping
for balls, big-breasted women in sand
dunes, photographs from World War II,
stop-motion pictures of people juggling,
but that was about it. All that schmaltz
that magazines ran. I really knew nothing about photography. But what I did
know was that I wanted to shoot something that I could see a day later and
project them on the wall so I could look
at them 2 feet across. It was the ease of
use of slide film. I wanted, let’s face it,
instant gratification. And, also, life is in
color. So it made very direct common
sense to me.
What kind of slide ilm were you working with? ASA’s back then were pretty
slow, which would make it tough to freeze
the action for street photography.
At the time, it was called Kodachrome
II. A Roman numeral two, which later
on became Kodachrome 25. You could
shoot in the hard sunlight, which I
loved, at 1/250th of a second at around
ƒ/5.6 or ƒ/4.5. As soon as it became gray
or in the blue hour, you were stuck with
long exposures. But I was out in the
middle of the day with sunlight. What I
loved about 5th Avenue was how sexy it
was in sunlight with all those buildings
and women with coats and lipstick.
What lenses were you working with?
I had gotten the Pentax with a 50mm
lens on it. After about a month, I got so
frustrated using it, though I knew nothing about lenses. I just kept feeling, “Oh,
I’m too close!” So I went to a camera
store and talked to a guy: “Everything’s
too close, there’s no space in the picture.”
He said, “You need a 35mm lens.” So I
bought a used 35mm Zeiss Flektogon lens
with a screw mount, which could fit on a
Pentax. It was incredible. It changed my
life. A 35mm is virtually a 1:1 lens. If you
stand someplace and look at something,
it’s at the right distance, so you see what
you get. It’s not closer or further away.
I thought a lot of street photographers
worked with the 28mm?
Garry Winogrand used a 35. Lee
Friedlander used a 35. All of our
friends…Everyone eventually bought
a 28mm because there were times
when you were working late in the
day in crowds where you might want
the benefit of a deeper field of focus,
but then you had to learn how to use
it so you didn’t bend it in a way where
everything flew out the sides. Now, of
course, Leica makes aspherical lenses
to correct for that.
What are you shooting with these days
in terms of 35mm cameras?
I shoot with a Leica M, Leica M10
and the Leica S, which is a larger-format
Leica. You can make a 60-inch print
with it, and you can’t tell if it were made
with an 8x10 camera or a Leica. The
quality is superb.
What did you glean from your series
of side-by-side comparisons of color vs.
black and white photographs?
That was very important for me. The
first ones I did were in 1963. By that
time, I had started making black and May/June 2018 | 39
white pictures, too, because I wanted
the prints. Color prints were expensive,
and I didn’t really have any money, I
was out of a job. And everybody was
saying, “Black and white. Black and
white.” Although I was making them,
I kept feeling color was my voice. The
only way to make an argument for the
validity of color was to make pairs of
pictures so I could show them. “This is
a black and white image, but look what
happens when you have it in color. Isn’t
that blue-gray sky, and the yellow raincoat, isn’t that content? John Szarkowski
at MOMA was very important to my
generation. John began at the museum
in 1962, the same year I began to shoot.
A year later, he actually put a picture of
mine in a show. He had a way of looking at photographs and talking about
them in a speculative manner that made
us much more aware of photography’s
potential. One of the things John said
was, “When you pressed the button, the
camera described what was in front of
it.” I heard that and thought, “Well, if
40 | Digital Photo Pro
all a camera does is describe things, a
color picture describes more things. So
it means there’s more content in color
because a black and white picture is
devoid of color content.” I didn’t want to
lose that color content.
Do you have a go-to paper for printing
to get the most out of your images in terms
of color?
I have three papers. I use a HP largeformat printer—40 inches in New York
and 24 inches [in my other studio]. I use
Hahnemühle rag paper, Canson Rag
Photographique and HP professional
Satin. When I want to go photographic,
I go with the Satin. For my still lifes, I
use both Hahnemühle and Canson,
depending on the image I’m working
with. They absorb blacks differently.
In your new book, you mention that you
thought the great Japanese ukiyo-e artist
Hokusai would have been a great street
photographer. It’s an interesting concept because, in a way, the woodblock
print gave way to the camera in the late
19th century.
Meyerowitz fell in love with 35mm lenses
because of the similar perspective it gave him
to what his eyes saw.
That whole series on Mt. Fuji, views
along the Tokaido Road, really show
early street smarts. He was looking at
peddlers and fishermen and warriors
and farmers and prostitutes and geishas. Everything that was going on was
simultaneously under or in relation to
Mt. Fuji. So Mt. Fuji was the constant,
and life’s craziness was the constant, and
he put them together. That kind of space
where the thing in the background,
even if it’s invisible in the fog or hidden
by clouds, the knowledge of that and
the things that are going on in front are
part of what make the plane. His prints
operate on a two-dimensional plane and
give the illusion of a space, but they are
happening simultaneously on a twodimensional plane. So being a photographer who believed in the photographic
flatness, they move on to bring things far
away into the flatness of the frontal plane
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The Gateway Arch in St. Louis became
the "Mount Fuji" of Meyerowitz's
images, appearing in the periphery of
countless photos.
anymore, but I’m doing a very interesting online master workshop. I think the
series is going to be very successful.
Not only the Italian landscape and
neighbors, but the Italian artist Giorgio
Morandi has had an influence on you.
with actions and activity. I think Hokusai was thinking like a photographer
even before photography came to Japan.
And you trained as an artist before you
became a photographer. Is Gateway Arch
in St. Louis your Mt. Fuji?
It was. I treated it like that and circled around it, so in almost every picture something of the arch was there,
shrouded in mist or rain, one leg, a piece
if it between two buildings. St. Louis was
a dying, small urban center in America,
and they started tearing down whole
blocks of downtown St. Louis. Wherever
I walked, I could see a piece of the Arch
poking through. And that gave me the
sense in a kind of Mt. Fuji-like way. To
have a dialogue with this new sculpture,
which was trying to portray St. Louis
as the Gateway to the West while at the
time the city was actually falling apart. It
was finished in 1965. I got a commission
from the director of the museum. He had
seen some of my 8x10 format pictures of
Cape Cod. I was out in St. Louis doing
some research for Bystander, the book
Colin Westerbeck and I did on the history of street photography. He asked,
“Could you do this here in St. Louis?”
I said, “You mean like a commission?” I
thought, “Somebody is going to pay me?”
42 | Digital Photo Pro
I shot it all with a vintage Deardorff camera built in 1938, the year I was born.
How does someone like you who’s been
so influenced by urban life end up in a
farmhouse in Tuscany?
David Lyman, who had the Maine
Photographic Workshops, would call
me every summer and ask, “Joel, do you
want to teach in Maine?” and I would
say, “I’m on the Cape, it’s warmer here,
I can swim,” and I was working on
my own stuff. By 1995, my first wife
and I had been separated for about five
years, and we were sharing our summer
house, so I could only have it for, let’s
say, August and September, and David
called again, “Joel, Bali or Tuscany?” I
looked at Maggie, the woman I’m married to now, and asked, “Bali or Tuscany?” She said, “Tuscany.” So we went
to Tuscany, and we taught a workshop
right where we are now. It was so beautiful here, and the local people were so
welcoming. We started coming back,
and for part of seven summers we taught
our own workshops, and we put down
roots. Then, four or five years ago, we
decided to come here for a year. It was
so satisfying we stayed for another year.
It’s been four years since we’ve been here
full time. We’re not doing the workshops
I started doing still lifes a few years
ago, when Maggie and I had been given
a commission to do a book on Provence.
While there, we went to Aix-enProvence, because it’s a beautiful town,
and we went to Cézanne’s studio. In his
studio, I got some sort of hit. A history
hit. He had painted his walls gray. And I
wondered why [would] this guy, who was
basically the father of modern painting,
do that. I studied it and went back later
and asked if I could do some photographs
of some of his objects against a gray wall
merely as a way of studying a space that
he operated in.
It’s so engaging that now I find myself
really engaged in it. After Cézanne,
I went up to Bologna, which is only a
few hours north of here, where Giorgio Morandi had his studio. He died
in 1964, but his studio is intact. I went
there because he was a master of the still
life. I wanted to see if I could have a dialogue with who Morandi was and to see
what I could learn, what I might be able
to take from it that would be interesting and challenging photographically.
You cannot make photographs that do
what Morandi’s paintings did. He could
make things flat. A photograph always
has space in it. It’s totally different. But
having a dialogue with someone who
did that was interesting for me. A life in
photography has offered me all of these
challenges. I think that’s what keeps
me interested in the medium. There’s
always something new to consider. DPP
Instagram: @joel_meyerowitz
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A true team of innovative equals
By Meredith Winn >> Photography by France Photographers
ara France spent years making
a name for herself as a
photographer in the wedding
industry before she created France
Photographers. Combining her love of
travel and photography with her deep
personal beliefs around empowering
women in business, Sara designed a
groundbreaking business model for
professional photographers. In 2014,
Sara brought together a team of allfemale photographers; the result is
a beautiful blend of creative minds
and a true team of innovative equals.
With offices in San Diego, Austin and
Hawaii, France Photographers has
successfully redefined the landscape of
the wedding photography business.
Meet the brains behind the business
model: Sara France is an award-winning
wedding photographer and a frequent
speaker and presenter at international
photography conferences. Notably, she
has spoken at WPPI and the Palm
Springs Photo Festival. She has presented
on stage for Apple and is well known as
a Sony Artisan. Her style is described
as “passionate and alive,” and the same
can be said for her business savvy. This
down-to-earth entrepreneur is all about
teamwork. “The business is not about me.
The business is about a team of amazing
photographers who work together and
consistently push each other’s creativity and growth as artists,” she says. Her
innovation in creating this business model
is genius for entrepreneurs and clients
alike. Sara is a self-taught, self-proclaimed
gearhead with the heart of an artist. With
more than 15 years in the notoriously cutthroat wedding industry, she has paved
a new way for the business world while
maintaining the personal client experience that defines her brand.
Most wedding photography businesses consist of the single shooter/second shooter approach, so having a collective is a unique concept. Sara made a
conscious business decision for this type
of expansion, so it was much more than
a necessity of outsourcing and delegation. And finding the perfect fit for her
California team came naturally. “I recognized talent. I recognized passion for
photography. In these women, I saw an
entrepreneurial spirit, a drive, an open
heart and the ability to see that we are
better together,” she says. France Photographers created its home base in San
Diego as the team of Sara, Jessica Van
and Rachel Jay. Sara says: “Together,
we can each focus on what we do best.
That may be creating a social media
calendar, vendor relationships, email
marketing, website building, financials,
operations, editing or client communication.” After much success, France
Photographers opened an office in Austin, Texas, with a second team of photographers. Kiera Jane and Mikenzie
Ryan have helped expand to the southwest as business continued to grow.
And now, this spring, a new office will
be opening in Honolulu, Hawaii.
When opportunities arise, it helps to
be open-minded and forward thinking;
these attributes welcome change. Sara
describes how the Hawaii office is the
perfect example of true business team
support: After military orders came in
with a transfer for Rachel’s family, there
was no question as to the next step for
France Photographers. “We are so dedicated to this team. We support Rachel
with this transition as she relocates to
Hawaii and opens a France Photographers in Honolulu. We have business meetings to discuss strategy and
timeline; she’ll be keeping her eye out for
the right photographer to join the team
there, but she’s already hit the ground
running. She’s making her vision happen, and it’s amazing to witness.” Sara is
a successful businesswoman in the truest sense, and she’s determined to see her
equals thrive: “That’s what we do. We
support each other and, by doing that,
we make our business even better.”
A creative and cohesive workplace
helps build a successful business, and
France Photographers is a thriving
example of a wedding photography
business. Managing teams of photographers that are hundreds of miles (and
an ocean) apart might prove challenging. But technology makes this work
easy. Sara describes managing the business end of things: “I have team meetings every week with each team. We’ll
have an outline of items to discuss, as
well as anything that the team needs
to talk about. I have quarterly meetups with each photographer one on
one (in person or over Skype, depending on if I’m in their town). I’m able
to really connect with each of them
at these times. We also have meetings that might just involve two of the
team members talking about the social
media plan for San Diego, the website
for Austin or the transition to Hawaii.
This way, no one is wasting time in a
meeting that doesn’t relate to what they
need to work on.”
Efficiency makes for a streamlined
business and grateful clients. Sara was
happy to share some insightful behindthe-scene details about running the business. She says, “Leading up to the wedding, tasks are delegated by the wedding
photographer hired for each wedding.
ShootQ is a lifesaver for us with this. May/June 2018 | 45
We’re able to keep all of our accounts
separate but also see specific details for
all of us as a whole. At a glance, everyone can see each photographer’s lead, the
financials and where each client is in the
workflow. We have an agreed-upon editing style, and we all edit based on that
style. The clients get the images based
on our workflow and timeline. We work
with ShootDotEdit to help us with our
post-production. They help us maintain
consistency, and their style match has
been such an asset, especially during a
busy wedding season.” Keeping up with
the latest technology and camera gear
isn’t just necessary for a cutting-edge
business but also serves as inspiration for
a visionary artist. “I switched to Sony last
year, and I have been so inspired by the
technology,” Sara says. “I love sharing
that with the team and watching them
get inspired by the low-light capabilities
or creating new angles with the flexible screen, as well as feeling confident
in what they’re shooting because of the
electronic viewfinders.”
This co-op style business model is a
benefit to wedding photographers in
the industry, and Sara France can often
be found speaking at photography conferences to share her knowledge with
other professionals. “I truly see this as
the future of wedding photography.
It’s unrealistic that one person excels at
everything: photography, design, sales,
business management, social media,
writing, editor, travel agent and CFO.”
This is a truth that every self-employed
professional photographer knows. With
France Photographers, each artist contributes their own strengths, which benefits the whole. “This means there are
more people thinking about new ways
to bring in revenue, more people meeting new contacts, more content on the
blog to feature and more weddings at
any particular venue. The list of benefits
goes on and on,” she says. So, how can
the photography industry bridge this
gap between the old and new ways of
doing business? “Most importantly, the
team has to be completely committed
The members of France Photographers are
good friends and a great team.
46 | Digital Photo Pro
to our business (not just shooting for
France Photographers on the side when
we book them jobs). This allows all of
us to be working towards the same goal.
Secondly, each photographer prices
themselves at what they (and we) feel
they are worth. This is an extremely different approach, which provides more
jobs based on different price points and
is a huge benefit to clients.”
This team approach is met with great
response by clients who hire a France
Photographer for their wedding day.
The client has more options with
choice of photographer and pricing. In
addition, our clients know that they
have a supportive team behind them,
so they have nothing to worry about.”
What more can a wedding client ask
for? It’s their big day, and they want it
to be perfect. “They know that even if
their photographer happens to get sick,
they have a team that is trained and
capable of helping before, during and
after the wedding. No matter the situation, they will be taken care of. Clients
also love that we are friends and love
working together.” Being surrounded by
artists is good for the spirit and great for
business, she says. “Being part of a community where you can be open and vulnerable is so freeing. We’re always taking the opportunity to try new things,
discover new technology and learn from
each other.”
As innovative businesswomen, they
follow the needs of their team. As intuitive photographers, they follow the needs
of their clients. This is the true power
of a team; it can be found in creating a
safe place to inspire and support other
female photographers. Understanding
the challenges of today’s businesswoman
and being able to provide support in the
way they need is part of why Sara created France Photographers. “We lean
into the strengths that we are naturally born with, and we build the perfect workspace that creates freedom for
everyone,” she says. This is the future.
This is the business of photography. DPP May/June 2018 | 47
Take your astrophotography to the
next level with these techniques
Text & Photography By Adam Woodworth
As Numerous As The Stars
With today's cameras and lenses, it has never
been easier to capture the stars and
the Milky Way and get sharp, clean
results. All it takes is some technical knowledge, patience and a good
amount of practice. Before we start,
I think it’s important to note that
most of these images are the result of
blending multiple exposures together
in Photoshop. The technical details
needed to get a low-noise and in-focus
wide-angle image at night usually
require multiple exposures, something
we'll go over in a bit more detail later
in this article, but the basics apply to
taking single images as well.
Finding The Milky Way
Before you can go shoot the Milky Way,
you need to find out when and where
you can see it. The Galactic Center of
the Milky Way (the center of our home
galaxy) is the biggest and brightest part
that’s most often photographed. In the
Northern Hemisphere, the Galactic
Center is visible at night from roughly
February through October. Early in the
year, the Galactic Center is visible low
on the horizon in the southeast, and
throughout the year the Milky Way will
rise more vertically and move southwest
through the sky. Things are different
in the Southern Hemisphere, with the
Galactic Center starting in the southwest and moving northeast and further
through the year, and the Galactic Center is often much higher in the sky.
There are a number of handy iOS
and Android apps available that display
the location of the Galactic Center of
the Milky Way. One of the best apps is
PhotoPills, available for both iOS and
Android, which shows the location of
the Milky Way relative to any point on
a 2D map, the perfect planning tool for
landscape astrophotography. You can also
check out The Photographer's Ephemeris
and PlanIt! For Photographers, which are
similar to PhotoPills. The Photographer’s
Ephemeris has an augmented reality
mode, allowing you to point your phone
at the sky and see the position of celestial
objects at any date, time and location of
your choosing. There are also lots of night
sky guide apps available that will let you
find the direction of the Milky Way, such
as SkySafari, Star Walk, Planets, Star
Chart and many more. There’s also Stellarium, a free desktop application.
Finding A Dark Sky
If you haven’t ever really noticed light
pollution before, you’ll be amazed at
just how far away from a city you have
to get in order to be under a very dark
sky. When planning your shots, make
sure to note the location of cities near
your desired shooting spot and where
the Milky Way will be visible in relation
to them. For example, if the Milky Way
will be in the south part of the sky, don’t
go north of a big city unless you go way,
way far north. You can use a website like
Dark Site Finder, http://darksitefinder.
com/maps/world.html, to view a light
pollution map and plan your shooting
locations in as dark an area as you can.
even at its largest aperture, or at least at
ƒ/2.8. Coma distortion is a typical warping of an image found mostly on lowerend lenses. You want to capture as much
light as possible in the sky over a 30-second or less exposure, so your lens needs
to be pretty sharp even at its largest aperture or else you’ll get soft stars.
Some lens examples for full-frame
cameras include the NIKKOR 14-24mm
F2.8, Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8, Tamron
SP 15-30mm F/2.8, and the Rokinon
14mm f/2.8. For crop cameras, some
examples include the Tokina 11-20mm
F2.8 and the Rokinon 12mm f/2.8 lens.
Sony shooters will find great results with
the FE 16-35mm G Master lens, and Sigma’s wide-angle ART lenses work great
on Nikon, Canon or Sony.
Fujifilm shooters can try the
XF16mmf/1.4 R WR, and Olympus
and Panasonic photographers can use
the M.Zuiko Digital ED 17mm f1.2
PRO, although the lens has an equivalent 35mm focal length, so isn’t as wide
as some of the full-frame choices.
You’ll also need a solid tripod to
keep your camera motionless during
long exposures and an intervalometer
Over the past few years, cameras have
evolved tremendously when it comes to
resolution, and you can get good results
with a crop (APS-C, Micro Four Thirds,
etc.) camera and a fast wide-angle lens,
but you’ll still have the best results with
a full-frame camera. Modern full-frame
cameras such as the Nikon D850 have
much better high-ISO-noise performance than cameras from just a few
years ago. But I've also seen amazing
results from the newer entry-level crop
and mirrorless cameras from all brands.
Arguably more important than the
camera is the lens, because the camera is
only as sharp as the lens. For sky-filling
images of the Milky Way, you want a
large-aperture wide-angle lens that’s
sharp with minimal coma distortion
Left: Nikon D800E, NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8 lens. Sky: Single shot at ISO 3200, 14mm, ƒ/2.8, 25
seconds. This was before I knew about star stacking. Foreground: ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, 20 minutes.
Right: This is an example of using the PhotoPills app to ind the angle of the Milky Way. May/June 2018 | 49
Nikon D850, NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8 lens, at 14mm. Sky: One shot at
ISO 25,600 for 20 seconds. I liked the airglow in the single shot better
than the result of star stacking 10 shots. Foreground: Two exposures,
one at ISO 1600 and ƒ/4 for 60 seconds during blue hour to get the
very, very close shrubs in focus and one at ISO 1600 and ƒ/2.8 for 16
minutes in complete darkness for the background cliffs and water. I
didn't use a blue hour shot for the background cliffs and water because
I ind the blue hour shots result in harsher shadows than really exist in
total darkness, and I wanted the Milky Way reflection in the water and
in the right spot to match the Milky Way in the sky, which means that in
situations like this, I have to take a foreground exposure (at least for the
water) generally right before/after taking sky shots.
or remote release so you can take
foreground exposures longer than 30
seconds. Some cameras have a builtin intervalometer, but most don’t, so
a programmable intervalometer like
the Promote or Vello ShutterBoss will
make life a lot easier versus using a
simple one-button remote release and
a stopwatch.
Capturing The Stars
To capture pinpoint stars, as opposed
to long star trails, you need to use shutter speeds that are generally 30 seconds
or less with super-wide angle lenses.
The actual shutter speeds will depend
on your focal length. A general rule of
thumb is the “500 Rule,” which states
that your focal length (35mm equivalent
if using a crop camera) divided into 500
gives you a shutter speed that would have
50 | Digital Photo Pro
small amounts
of star trails.
However, I personally find this
rule often results
in star trails that
are too long, so I
usually go even
shorter with the
The best thing is
to take test shots
and see what
works for you.
You also need
to use a high
ISO in order to
capture enough
light from the
dark sky. Generally, ISO 3200 or
higher is a good
start. Too low,
and you won’t get enough detail in the
sky; too high, and you might get too
much amplification noise in your shot,
which often shows up as a magenta
“glow” along the edges of the frame.
Experiment to find the best result for
your camera.
When shooting single exposures for
the sky, I’m frequently at 14mm, f/2.8,
20 seconds, and between ISO 3200 and
12,800, depending on the ambient light
in the sky.
Star Stacking
You can create an image that has pinpoint stars with exceptionally low
noise by using a technique known as
“star stacking.” Using this technique,
you take multiple, very short and very
high ISO exposures of the stars, and
then align and average those exposures
together in software. The result has
pinpoint stars due to the short exposure
time and is very low noise due to the
averaging of the noisy images. You can
do the alignment and averaging in Photoshop by masking out the foreground
in each image before doing the alignment, then putting the aligned layers
into a single Smart Object and choosing
the Median blend mode for the Smart
Object. If you’re on a Mac, you can use
the program Starry Landscape Stacker
(available in the Mac App Store) to automate much of the star stacking process
for you. You can then take the resulting
star stacked image and blend it with
your foreground exposures just as you
would with a single exposure for the sky.
For star stacking at 14mm and ƒ/2.8
with my D850, I normally use ISO
12,800 for 10 seconds and take 10 exposures. You should experiment to find
what works with your setup. Some
cameras will have a lot of magenta sensor noise on the edge of the frame when
shooting a really high ISO for a short
time, so keep this in mind and see how
your camera performs. You may need
to bring the ISO down to get rid of the
magenta noise with these short, 10-second exposures.
Focus For The Stars
Getting critical star focus at night can
be a bit tricky, but if you aim the center
of your lens at a very bright star and use
live view, you might be able to see the
star and rotate your focus ring manually until the star is as round and sharp
as possible. Make sure to start with
the focus ring near infinity because
if you’re too far out of focus, the stars
will be blurred so much that you won’t
be able to see them at all. If you can’t
The Milky Way rises over a fairly intimate canyon view in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The
green color in the sky is from airglow, a natural phenomenon that occurs in the upper atmosphere.
Airglow is the result of various chemical reactions in the upper atmosphere that emit light, and
on some nights it's much more active than others in certain areas. It's very dificult to see airglow
with the naked eye, but the camera has no problem capturing the dim light in a long exposure. The
bright glow on the left side of the horizon is light pollution from the town of Moab.
Nikon D810A, NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8 lens, at 14mm. Sky: 10 shots ISO 10,000 and 10 seconds
each and then star stacked with Starry Landscape Stacker. Foreground: I used one foreground shot
at ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, for 15 minutes focused for the stars to get most of the landscape in focus (at
ƒ/2.8 at 14mm, a lot is in focus), and I took another foreground shot at ISO 3200, ƒ/5.6, for 30
minutes to get more of the close foreground on the left in focus.
use this live view method, then in daylight find the true infinity focus point
on your lens by focusing on something
far away on the horizon. You can then
mark the spot on your focus ring or
tape it down. Don’t rely on the infinity
mark on your focus ring; infinity focus
changes as the lens ages and with heat
and humidity, and, on cheaper lenses,
the infinity mark is often so far out of
calibration that it’s meaningless.
Foreground Exposures
Since you need to capture the stars at
a very wide aperture, focused for the
stars and a very high ISO, this will
often result in the foreground being
out of focus, dark and noisy. By taking additional exposures for the foreground at different focus distances,
much longer shutter speeds and lower
ISOs, you’ll have a cleaner and infocus foreground that you can blend
with your sky exposure in Photoshop
to create a single photo that has pinpoint stars, low noise and the entire
scene in focus.
When possible, I like to shoot my foreground exposures at ISO 1600 or lower,
and the shutter speed can vary anywhere
from 1 minute to 30 minutes, depending
on the ambient light. You could use light
painting to brighten the foreground so
that you can use a shorter shutter speed,
but this can lead to harsh shadows and
blown-out highlights. I usually prefer to
capture the scene using ambient light.
I often shoot my foregrounds at ƒ/2.8
and take multiple shots at different focus
distances and then blend them for depth
of field (focus stacking). I could take
fewer shots at a higher ƒ-stop for greater
depth of field per shot, but using a higher
ƒ-stop means needing to keep the shutter
open even longer to capture enough light,
and in some very dark areas that might
mean an exposure that’s multiple hours
long. If something goes wrong in that
exposure, you have to do it all over again.
You can judge your needed foreground shutter speed by doing some test
shots and a little exposure math. Let’s say
you take a shot at ISO 12,800 for 30 seconds just to check what you get for your
histogram and detail in the foreground.
If the scene is still really dark, try 60 May/June 2018 | 51
seconds. This is just a test shot, and it
will be very noisy, but we’re just looking
to get an idea of how much detail will
be visible in the foreground once we go
down to a lower ISO and longer shutter
speed. So if 60 seconds looks good, it’s
then just a matter of some multiplication
to get your shutter speed for a lower ISO.
If you want to shoot your foreground
at ISO 1600, then count the stops from
ISO 12,800 to 1600-12,800, 6400, 3200,
1600—that means that ISO 1600 is
three stops down from ISO 12,800.
Multiply your initial test shutter speed
by 2 for each stop down, and you get 1
minute * 2 * 2 * 2 = 8 minutes. Now you
can shoot at ISO 1600 for 8 minutes, and
your level of foreground brightness will
be similar to or hopefully better than
what you saw with ISO 12,800 for 1
minute, but the image will have much
less noise. Note that this math assumes
you didn’t change the ƒ-stop, but if you
need to change the ƒ-stop in addition to
the ISO, just do the same math for the
number of stops you went up from the
ƒ-stop used with the test shot.
Other Camera Settings
As always, you should be shooting in
RAW mode to get the most out of your
camera and editing ability. White balance isn’t important to a RAW file, but
it’s important for the JPEG preview that
you see on your camera's LCD. Most
cameras calculate the histogram they
display based on the JPEG preview, so
dialing in a white balance that comes
close to what you might want your
scene to look like will create a more useful histogram. I’ll often use a manual
white balance of somewhere around
3800K-4000K in camera and then
adjust the white balance in Lightroom.
I suggest using Long Exposure
Noise Reduction for single sky shots
or for long exposure foreground shots.
This will reduce (hopefully eliminate)
the hot pixels in an exposure, but in
order to do so the camera has to take
a "dark frame," which is an exposure
with the same settings but the shutter
closed. The camera then uses the dark
frame to find and remove hot pixels from the original exposure before
writing out the final raw file to your
memory card. This works great, but
it doubles your exposure time. It’s not
necessary if you’re doing star stacking,
since the aligning and averaging will
wipe out hot pixels.
Go Out And Shoot!
Now that you have the basics down, go
out and shoot! Check your app for the
Milky Way angle at a dark sky location
and have fun!
Nikon D810A, NIKKOR 14-24mm F2.8 lens, at 14mm and f/2.8. Sky: Star stacked blend of 10
exposures, each taken at ISO 10,000, 10 seconds, f/2.8 and then stacked with Starry Landscape
Stacker for pinpoint stars and low noise. Foreground: Two exposures were taken at lower ISO and
longer shutter speeds for a cleaner foreground, one at ISO 1600 for 20 minutes and another at ISO
6400 for two minutes, both at ƒ/2.8. The exposures were then blended in Photoshop to create a
single image with low noise and sharp focus. The blue color in the water is bioluminescence, light
emitted from dinoflagellates (microorganisms).
52 | Digital Photo Pro
Adam Woodworth is a landscape
photographer based in Maine. You can
learn more about his techniques through
his video tutorials available on his website,
MAY 31 - JUNE 3, 2018
Mirrorless Mania
Panasonic and Fujifilm pave the way for the future of hybrid cameras
The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5s
Panasonic’s latest and greatest hybrid
stills/video camera, the Lumix DCGH5s, has proven to be a capable performer and, ironically, a better video
camera than its cousin, the GH5. By
dropping back to a lower-resolution sensor, a 10.2-megapixel Micro Four Thirds
sensor (about half the resolution of the
20 MP version in the GH5), Panasonic
has increased the low-light sensitivity to
a native ISO 51,200. The engineers then
took a cue from Panasonic’s broadcast
division and the dual native ISO capability of the Varicam and EVA 1, giving
54 | Digital Photo Pro
Text & Photography by Daniel Brockett
the GH5s the same feature, which pegs
the camera’s native sensitivity at ISO
400 ordinarily (ISO 800 for V-LogL or
HLG capture) and the higher sensitivity of ISO 2500 ordinarily (ISO 5000 for
V-LogL or HLG).
The GH5s can record a 400 Mbps
All-Intra format out of the box. Add
10-bit recording and V-Log to the feature list, which was an additional charge
on the GH5. The GH5s is the only
camera in its class that can record Cinema 4K (4096x2160) in 60p, too. Panasonic also added the ability to produce
time code to sync another camera on
a multi-camera shoot or to input time
code from another device. Panasonic
seems to have crammed just about every
reasonable video feature into this one.
For video shooters, Panasonic has
made huge strides and major improvements from the GH4/GH5 versus the
GH5s. I found with the GH4 images
to be grainy at any ISO over 400, while
with the GH5s I easily used ISO 1600
and even 3200 without needing to run
the footage through noise-reduction
software, a major improvement. The
pastel-like skin tones and generally
unflattering colors of the GH4 have
Panasonic Lumix GH5S
been replaced with pleasant, saturated
colors with good contrast and more
naturalistic skin tones. Just five years
ago, nobody could have comprehended
a $2,500 camera with nearly all of these
features; it would have just seemed
impossible. The only glaring omission
for some users will be the absence of In
Body Image Stabilization (IBIS), which
the GH5 has. There have already been a
lot of complaints and venting on discussion boards about its absence, so Panasonic, take note for the GH6—make
sure it has IBIS!
• Amazing ISO performance
• Dual native ISO
• 4K 60P
• Improved color, contrast
• Lack of IBIS
• Lower Res than GH5 for stills
• 60p is at 8-bit 4:2:0
• Some data rates require costly
V60/90 cards
The Fujifilm X-H1 Arrives
Just a week or so after I began testing
the GH5s, I was invited to the rollout
of the new Fujifilm X-H1, Fuji’s latest
APS-C mirrorless camera. Much like
the Panasonic GH5s is a version of the
GH5 designed to appeal more to video
users, the X-H1 is a more video-centric
version of Fujifilm’s popular X-T2. The
XH-1 adds features designed to appeal
to the video shooter, but many of them
will also be handy for stills shooters or
hybrid shooters who must deliver both
high-quality still images as well as short
video clips for social media or other
online use. Working from the X-T2,
the X-H1 gets a higher resolution viewfinder and adds touch sensitivity to its
rear touchscreen.
The headline feature of the X-H1 is
the addition of IBIS (In Body Image
Stabilization), rated up to 5.5 stops. It’s
interesting that Fujifilm has added
IBIS just as Panasonic’s competing
GH5s removes it; make of that what
you will. The X-H1 offers DCI 4K in
23.98p and 24p, as well as UHD 4K in
23.98/24/25/29.97p. While the X-T2
requires an external recorder to use
flat Log capture, the X-H1 allows for
internal F-Log recording. The camera doubles the maximum data rate of
the X-T2, utilizing bitrates of up to 200
Mbps and 24-bit audio (versus 16-bit
on the X-T2). While I was only able
to check out the X-H1 at the rollout
event, I noted an absence of many of the
types of exposure tools that video users
expect, such as zebra indicators,
waveforms and peaking; all
of these are available on
the GH5s. The Fujifilm only offers 8-bit
4:2:0 recording as
well as HDMI
output, although
the images looked
beautiful. In addition
to inheriting the X-T2’s
film emulation modes, the
X-H1 adds a new emulation
mode called ETERNA, based upon
Fuji’s 500 negative ETERNA motion
picture film. It’s less saturated than the
other modes, which are taken from
still film gamma curves.
Fujifilm took a leap ahead for video
shooters at the same rollout, premiering its existing MK Cinema lenses, now
available in the native Fujifilm X-mount
that allows for the transmission of focal
length, aperture and other data to the
camera. The MK Cinema lenses have
been a big hit with Sony E-Mount users.
While I’m not sure if buyers of a $1,899
hybrid stills video camera will pony
up the $4,300 needed for the MK50135mm T2.9 Cine lens, it’s a nice option
to have available.
• New ETERNA film emulation
• 4K DCI
• MK Cine lenses
• Good but not great low-light
• All film modes are 8-bit 4:2:0
• No 4K 50/60p
• 15 minute clip limit, 30 minutes
with battery grip
Cameras like the GH5s and the Fujifilm X-H1 are beginning to show up
on the sets of higher-end productions,
usually not as the primary or “A” camera but more and more often as a B or
C camera, on a gimbal, hanging from
a drone or as a crash cam, positioned
where it’s difficult or impossible to
place a larger camera. It used to be that
I much preferred shooting an APS C/
S35 imager for its superior low-light
ability over a much smaller M43 imager
Fujiilm XH-1
Some new camcorders, notably those from Sony, Panasonic, and Canon, are capitalizing on the
success of mirrorless video cameras, offering superb AF and Log recording formats.
like the GH5s has, but I have to say that
the low-light performance of the M43
imager in the Panasonic is even better in
low light than the much larger APS-C
imager in the X-H1, although to my eye,
the X-H1 has a bit nicer color science
than the Panasonic. The main differentiator between M43 and APS C/S35 is
the field of view and depth of field characteristics between the two size imagers.
When comparing DOF and FOV, you
double focal length on the M43 imager,
whereas you only multiply an APS-C
imager 1.5x to arrive at the same FOV
and DOF characteristics as full frame.
Both of these cameras cost less than the
most popular full frame cameras, like
Sony’s a7S II, but at $2,500, the GH5s is
almost at parity, while Fujifilm kept the
cost of the X-H1 lower.
M43 and APS-C imager cameras
generally offer smaller size and weight
than most full frame DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, but they used to give
up light sensitivity as well. Notice the
past tense? I was shown footage shot at
night around Osaka, Japan, with both
the M43 Panasonic GH5s and the full
frame Sony a7S II, widely considered to
be one of the most capable full-frame
cameras on the market, and the GH5s
acquitted itself amazingly well, with
more saturated colors and less apparent
noise than the Sony full-frame imager
in the a7S II. The days of having to
choose full frame to gain low-light
ability are coming to an end. With
newer-generation technology in cameras like the GH5s, it’s now becoming
more of a choice about desired DOF
and FOV more than light-gathering
ability. Another factor is that pro
still photographers have long favored
full-frame imagers precisely for their
light-gathering ability, but for shooting video of moving subjects and trying to hold the image in sharp focus,
full-frame cameras can become more
of a handicap than an advantage.
In the end, it’s nice to have choices,
whether you favor smaller or larger
sensor cameras.
Keep in mind that for around the same
price neighborhood as the X-H1 and
GH5s, you can also consider a new crop
of 4K-capable video cameras from Sony,
Panasonic and Canon. Models like Sony’s
new FDR-AX700, the consumer-end
version of the company’s new trio of
4K camcorders, offers face and subject
tracking, S-Log recording in a camcorder-centric design. Consumer video
cameras in this range are beginning to also
overlap into formerly pro-only features
like 4K 60p, Log recording and XLR
audio inputs. These newer-generation
camcorders offer more video-friendly
features, like servo-capable fixed lenses,
built-in ND filters and a form factor
that’s generally better for handheld shooting video, too. The GH5s and Fujifilm
X-H1 are still intended for the photographer branching into video production
or the videographer who needs to supply
stills as well as video, since both shoot
beautiful, high-resolution still images as
well as high-end 4K DCI video.
The good news is that if you can
accept some operational and handling
compromises, either the GH5s or the
X-H1 are fully capable of stunning
images, both stills and video, and
both come at a reasonable cost for the
robust feature sets they give you.
The worlds of still photography and
video capture are both melding and
changing, with many overlaps. Tools
like the Panasonic GH5s and the
Fujifilm X-H1 continue to evolve
along the way, too.
What's Dual Native ISO?
You may not be familiar with the new Dual Native ISO function
included on the GH5S. This is how Panasonic refers to what's
essentially a dual-gain sensor design with two read-out circuits.
As you probably know, most digital cameras have a native ISO,
the gain setting where the imager is optimized to achieve the
most desired balance of speed, noise/grain and dynamic range.
As you increase the imager gain for greater sensitivity, you lose
color fidelity and dynamic range, while increasing noise/grain.
Panasonic’s Varicam line of broadcast/digital cinema cameras
was the first to include the Dual Native ISO function with
switchable native ISOs of 800 and 5000. If you increase the
56 | Digital Photo Pro
Varicam’s 800 ISO to 5000, you’ll see a lot more grain/noise and
will lose color fidelity. Switching to the Varicam’s native ISO 5000
results in very little grain/noise and good quality color fidelity.
The Varicam cameras start at $21,600 for the body only, so
it’s quite impressive that the $2,499 GH5S includes the same
Dual ISO feature. The GH5S doesn’t have the same ISO ranges
as the much more expensive Varicam line, the GH5S is rated at
native ISOs of 400 and 2500, half the speed of the Varicams,
but any still photographer will still be happy with the images
at the camera’s native 2500 ISO, which is quite handy for lowlight video and stills shooting.
Shine A Lot of Light
Putting Fiilex’s new Q8 travel kit to work
Text & Photography By Daniel Brockett
The new Fiilex Q8 Bi-Color LED
Fresnel Kit is billed as a high-power
light with the ability to focus from spot
to flood, flicker-free operation at any
frame rate, smooth diming down to .1
percent intensity, and powerful color
controls. The Q8 has a tunable color
temperature from 2800K to 6500K,
340W power consumption and output,
and a hue control that allows for ±0.25
green/magenta adjustments. Portable
(at just a bit under 22 pounds, including
both light and power adapter), the
Fiilex Q8 is weather resistant to IP-24
standards, which means it is resistant to
sprays of water from any direction.
I brought the Q8 on a shoot for a web
58 | Digital Photo Pro
promo campaign for a local NPR affiliate as soon as the light arrived. We shot
a variety of subjects in one day, a couple
of sit-down interviews, some table-top
footage of some fundraising swag and
a few b-roll sequences. As we were
unloading for the shoot, I brought the
Q8 case over to my gaffer, Mark Napier.
I told him at the end of the shoot, I
wanted his feedback on what he thought
of the light from a gaffer point of view. I
had already played with the Q8 at home
and had begun forming some opinions about it, but I was interested to see
how our thoughts would align on the
new light.
The previous interviews for this
project were shot with soft light, so I
punched the Q8 through a 42” Westcott Diffusion Disc as a key source. The
Q8 filled up the disc, ¬and it was much
easier to control the spill around the
edges than the typical LED panel. I also
noticed that the power output on the Q8
was robust. In order to reach the same
exposure with the Q8 that we had previously shot at with an Arri 1K fresnel, I
dialed the Q8’s output to just 44 percent.
Impressive. This light has some serious
output. We did some readings with a
Sekonic L-758C light meter and found
that at 2800K, 3200K, 5600K, all TLCI
measured above 93, which occurred at
100 percent output and the minimum
color temperature of 2800K as well. The
Q8’s hue control reads out in a range of
+0.25 to -0.25, which looks like a reference to plus or minus-green gels, so
very handy when matching older HMI,
tungsten or Kinos, if you want to tweak
the Q8 for an exact match.
A bit about the controls, though. Both
Mark and I felt that all three main control knobs on the rear of the light were
way too touchy. You barely breathe on
them, and they change output quite
radically. They would work much better with a coarser adjustment range or,
better yet, a variable speed adjustment.
The light contains a fan, which activates
as soon as you dial up the power in the
light, and it seems to be a constant-speed
fan; it sounds the same at 10 percent
output as 100 percent. I don’t like fans in
my lights as I am very audio-centric, but
I have yet to encounter an LED Fresnel without one. I can say, in a normal
conference room space, with the light
placed about 6’ from talent, our microphones didn’t pick up any fan noise during our interviews. But at home, in my
living room, when the house was quiet,
the fan noise was much more apparent.
In a small room or a situation where the
light needed to be close to talent, fan
noise could be an issue.
In regards to the Q8’s Fresnel lens, it’s
an acrylic lens, not glass. I have mixed
feelings about this. From a design perspective, acrylic can be etched and
60 | Digital Photo Pro
formed with elaborate grids and patterns, and Fiilex has
done a great job in
the design of the lens.
I was able to close the
barn doors into a slit,
and the light pattern
the lens threw was
a nice, softer-edged
pattern, but it could
be sharpened a bit
using the spot to
flood control. Normally, an acrylic lens
couldn’t be used in
a Fresnel for fear or
yellowing, cracking
or warping under heat, but since this is
an LED with an ample cooling system,
an acrylic lens is a viable choice.
Speaking of weight, this light is heavy,
about 23 pounds. With the power supply and inside the rolling case, the entire
setup is almost 50 pounds. A set of three
of these lights in the cases would be quite
a load for a rolling cart, which brings me
to the point of the overall weight versus
construction versus ruggedness. I have
two opinions about the weight of this
light. The first is, the light is kind of a
mechanical work of art. It’s beautifully
made, and the fit and finish are superb,
and the weight is part of its design and
construction. It’s a quality piece of gear.
It’s one of those pieces of equipment that
feels like it will last a long time. On the
other hand, any LED Fresnel light I
have used, to me, feels as if it tipped over
and hit the ground, it would be game
over. The weight is part and parcel, but
man is it heavy for travel or small crews
to deal with.
Overall, in using the light on a realworld shoot, the quality of the beam and
the color temperature were excellent.
The Q8 was very accurate when I viewed
the chip charts I used for the interviews,
offering no perceivable color cast. We are
finally at the point where LEDs can look
almost as color accurate as tungsten and
HMIs on skin tones. The rear metal loop
handles are very usable. In conjunction
with the lock down and the wide yolk,
it’s a breeze to adjust and position the Q8.
The power supply is not huge and comes
with a hexagonal pin and a Mafer clamp
to attach it to your light stand, which is
perfect and very slick—all LEDs should
do this. The spot-to-flood ratio on this
light is considerable, and normally, on an
all-metal construction light with a glass
Fresnel lens, you could never build in this
much lens extension as the light would be
totally front heavy. Because of the acrylic
lens, the light stays balanced even at full
spot extension with the narrowest beam.
This is a differentiator for this light over
its competition. I’ve never experienced a
Fresnel with this much beam range.
Like everything else, the Q8 Travel
isn’t perfect. It’s large, relatively heavy
and not inexpensive at a list price of
$3,000. It has a fan, which I am not a fan
of (oh gosh, puns?). Conversely, this is
the first 8”, 300-watt range LED Fresnel
I have used that seems to have even more
output than a 1K tungsten Fresnel.
The Q8’s color accuracy and output
should please even the picky, and the
hue variation is a nice touch. It’s DMX
compatible with both RJ-45 and fivepin XLR DMX I/O, and if you value
design and craftsmanship, it’s a beautifully made piece of gear. Overall, the Q8
is a mixed bag but many of its limitations are the limitations of all bi-color
LED fresnels in its price, size and output range, so I am not singling it out by
any means. It’s where the technology is
today, much improved but still complex,
bristling with features and flexibility but
at a price on your wallet and in weight.
If you’re looking for a high-output bicolor 8” LED Fresnel, definitely consider the Q8 Travel.
NEW Canon EOS C200 EF Cinema Camera
and 24-105mm Lens Kit
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EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Lens. This pairing creates a versatile digital
cinema production kit. The camera is capable of capturing and recording DCI
4K internally as Canon’s Cinema RAW Lite via a CFast 2.0 slot. Two built-in
SD card slots enable recording 4K UHD and Full HD as MP4. The included
accessories include a handgrip, 4” touch screen LCD viewfinder, which
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Audio Assist:
Affordable VR Audio Recording And NoiseReducing Headphones For Professional Use
Text & Photography by Daniel Brockett
Tascam DR-701D and Sennheiser Ambeo
If you’ve jumped into the confusing
“Wild West”-like atmosphere of VR
content creation, you may know that
VR cameras seem to have exploded in
popularity with dozens of both consumer and professional grades available,
with new models hitting the market
almost weekly. Audio for VR, on the
other hand, is a different animal than
shooting 360 video. Think about it:
VR/360 video is viewed in usually one
of two ways, ideally with VR headsets
for a fully immersive experience or on
a smartphone screen where the phone’s
62 | Digital Photo Pro
accelerometer, compass and display
allow you to visually experience a bit of
the VR look and feel.
But what about the VR sound? If
you’re wearing a headset and walk
through a room with, say, a person
speaking to you, the sound will change
as you move through the scene, right?
A person speaking sounds different
to you from 20 feet away than from 3
feet away, right? This is known as the
Doppler effect, and it’s the same thing
you experience when you’re walking
down the street and you hear a siren
in the distance. The siren grows louder
and more present as it makes its way
closer to you, then fades in amplitude as
it moves away from you.
Many people new to VR think that
perhaps the audio is merely surround
sound in a 5.1 or 7.1 format. Many of us
have surround sound in our homes and
are familiar with how it works. But
for VR, surround sound just doesn’t
work. The sound that’s needed is
called Ambisonics. It’s a sound format
that slightly differs from your usual
stereo/surround paradigm because
its channels aren’t attached to speakers. Instead, an Ambisonics recording
actually represents the whole spherical
soundfield around a point. In practice,
it means that you can represent sound
coming from all directions around a
listening position and, using an appropriate decoder, you can play back the
same recording in any set of speakers
with any number of channels arranged
around the listener horizontally
or vertically.
From a VR creator aspect, one of
the biggest challenges in recording
Ambisonic sound has been expense
and complexity. When I wrote about
the Wild West atmosphere in the VR
world, that’s not hyperbole. I shot VR
in Africa a year and half ago, and
the sound mixer who accompanied
us showed me his hand-modified
VR sound recorder, a factory Zoom
recorder that had been disassembled
and modified to record Ambisonic
sound. The sound mixer also used
a special Tetrahedral microphone
that he told me cost about $4,000.
The entire VR audio postproduction
process, just like stitching 360 video
from multiple cameras, was complex
and expensive.
Tascam, in partnership with
Sennheiser recently announced a new
2.0 firmware update for its popular
and relatively economical DR-701D six
track recorder that allows for Ambisonic recording. The two companies
are offering the DR-701D recorder
with the new VR firmware update
that has been specially designed to
interface with Sennheiser’s AMBEO
tetrahedral VR microphone. This new
update supports Ambisonics recording by enabling encoding both A and
B formats and providing a real-time
stereo monitor mix of B format content. What’s most interesting about
the partnership and the resulting
package is that the two items can be
purchased for just a little over $2,100.
This is about half the cost of just what
a quality VR microphone used to sell
for, for an Ambisonic recorder and VR
microphone. The price performance
parameter in recording VR audio has
just taken a major step toward affordability. While $2,100 is a significant
expense, before this system was available, the price for the same capability
was more in the $9,000 and up price
range. At press time, a system wasn’t
yet available for evaluation, but we’ll
be pursuing acquiring a review copy
of the system for a future user review.
Remote Audio HN-7506 Noise-Reducing
Headphone System
If you’ve been in the video or audio-forvideo business for any amount of time,
chances are good that you’ve experienced situations where you’re supposed
to be carefully monitoring audio in locations with high ambient noise. Sound
mixers often find themselves in very
high noise environments such as helicopters, racetracks, firing ranges or rock
concerts, where the ambient sound levels are so loud that you really can’t hear
what you’re recording.
Remote Audio has introduced a
special headphone monitoring system
that’s designed to provide extreme isolation from outside noise. Known as
the Remote Audio HN-7506, the system utilizes industry Sony MDR-7506
drivers with special baffling that radically reduces perceived ambient sound
while monitoring. The Remote Audio
HN-7506 adds a high degree of protection from hearing damage while
giving the user the familiar sound
of the industry-standard Sony headphones. Sealing off outside ambience
by as much as 45dB, the HN-7506
is designed to sound like the industry-standard Sony MDR-7506 and
allows the switch from one to another
without loss of monitoring standard
and reliability.
I had a chance to evaluate the
Remote Audio HN-7506s on a recent
shoot for a Netflix series. In the scene
being filmed, a crowd was screaming
wildly as an ’80s metal band played
on a nearby stage. Two of the characters in the scene were having a discussion as the loud band played. Often in
TV/film production, in a scene like
this, the sound of the band and of the
crowd will later be dubbed in post as
the band and crowd mime their parts.
For some reason, unbeknownst to
me, in this scene, the band on stage
was really playing, and the crowd
was really loud. I wasn't the project’s
sound mixer, but I was allowed to listen to what the sound mixer was hearing through both his regular Sony
MDR-7506 headphones and through
a set of the Remote Audio HN-7506s.
The difference in what I could hear
of the scene being shot was considerable between the two headsets. With
the Sony MDR-7506s, which are not
even full-ear headsets, I could not
hear anything the two actors having
the conversation were saying. Switching to the Remote Audio HN-7506s,
which seal over your full ear, I could
immediately tell a huge difference as
I could hear exactly what the actors
were saying, even though the ambient
sound levels were relatively high.
The headphones did exactly what
they were supposed to, an impressive
feat. The Remote Audio HN-7506s
are relatively larger and heavier than
the stock MDRV-7506s, so there may
be times when size and weight are
more important than the ability to
block ambient sound. For those times
when you need to record audio in high
ambient sound level situations, try the
Remote Audio HN-7506s. They retail
for around $310 from all of the popular online retailers or from your local
sound business.
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12154 Montague St. Pacoima, CA 91331 (323) 851-0111 May/June 2018 | 63
The Stock Issue
By David Schloss
destroyed the business!”
That’s the rallying cry heard
by countless photographers any time
the topic of stock comes up. But has it
really? The idea of buying images from
a company that collects and catalogs
them instead of commissioning a photographer to shoot them is almost as old
as the industry itself.
64 | Digital Photo Pro
Photography has changed, and stock
photography has changed with it. In an
era where billions of people consume a
continuous stream of content from hundreds of thousands of outlets, where
digital photography has changed the
nature of how that content is produced
(and by whom), how could there not be
stock photography?
In the next issue, we’ll look at the state
of stock, including photographers that
have made a career out of licensing their
images, plus the ways to get started in
stock photography, the business implications of working with an agency and
the tools you need to get your images
into the hands of consumers.
You can follow David Schloss on
Twitter and Instagram @davidjschloss
Tamron SP 70-200mm F/2.8 Di VC USD G2 (model A025) | Focal Length: 200mm Exposure: F/2.8 1/250 sec | © Thomas Kettner
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